Wills & Probate FAQs

Wills are a key element in Estate Planning and without one you are unable to control what happens to your assets after your death. You may leave your dependents with numerous problems, including an unmanageable tax burden and yet, it is widely reported that two out of three people have not made a Will.

 

Without a Will, the law will determine how your estate will be distributed, so your family, friends and favourite charities may not receive what they need, or expect.

 

A Will provides certainty, guides those who are left behind and saves worry and heartache at a time of great emotional stress.

 

Other benefits of making a Will include: –

  1. Minimising or avoiding inheritance tax;
  2. Reducing financial problems for beneficiaries;
  3. Choosing legal guardians for your children;
  4. Setting up trusts for children or grandchildren which can be flexible and allow money to be used for their benefit before they finally become entitled;
  5. Making charity donations;
  6. Making your own funeral arrangements and deciding whether you want to be buried or cremated;
  7. Avoiding family disputes.

St Helens Law can help you to make the correct provisions and ensure that your wishes are carried out. St Helens Law can:

  • Draw up your Will, making provision for all the people who are important to you;
  • Ensure that your wishes are carried out and that you fully understand the provisions of your Will;
  • Advise on inheritance tax to minimise your tax liabilities;
  • Arrange the signing of your Will and act as your independent witnesses;

Arrange storage of your Will for safekeeping.

Homemade Wills, although made with the best of intentions, are often unsatisfactory and even invalid. The common problems are: –

(i) They fail to use correct terminology and therefore fail to have the desired effect;

(ii) Homemade Wills rarely make provisions in the event that a named

beneficiary dies before the person making the Will. What happens to their gift if they have already died?

(iii) There are strict rules related to the signing of Wills and one mistake in this process can render the Will (or part of the Will) invalid. Homemade Wills often fail to observe these rules.

(iv) Homemade wills do not usually take into consideration any tax benefits.

Solicitors have the expertise to write your Wills and are regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority. We are obligated to attend training courses and updates in our specialist field each year, which means we are kept up to date with changes in the law.

St Helens Law have dealt with many firms of Will Writers who offer low prices for Wills and then charge astronomical fees for ‘other matters’ which are strictly not relevant, or who do not ensure that the Wills are properly executed (often the beneficiaries finding out that the Wills are void only after the person making the Will has died and it is too late to put things right). We have also had instances of Will Writing firms going out of business and the Wills that they have stored cannot be found.

A Solicitor will be able to offer more assistance than simply writing the Wills for you. Each Will, at St Helens Law, is tailor made to the individual and will be easy to read and understand. We try not to include too much legal jargon in our Wills (except where absolutely necessary) and try to keep our Wills as short and concise as possible.

We believe that our price for Wills is highly competitive and you will be left with a Will which fits your requirements and which you will understand.

A mirror Will is prepared when husband, wife, or partner makes almost identical Wills leaving everything to each other and thereafter to the children (if any) or, if there are no children, to the same named beneficiary or beneficiaries. They are separate legal documents with similar content that “mirror” each other.
A Will remains valid for an unlimited period. It is valid until revoked.
It is important that your Will is kept in a safe place where it cannot come to any harm from fire, flood, theft or any number of other perils. There is no formal requirement as to where a Will should be stored but obviously it should be kept safe. If your Will is lost, damaged or destroyed whilst in your possession, it is presumed that you have revoked your will and you would be intestate (i.e. without a valid Will). We are happy to store your Will for you at St Helens Law to give you peace of mind that your Will is stored safely.
You can change your Will whenever you want to. In fact it is important that you review your Will from time to time and make any changes that are required due to altered circumstances. Any changes need to be made by incorporating them into a document called a Codicil, although if the changes you wish to make are quite substantial, it may be better to make a new Will. Signing your new Will would automatically revoke your earlier Will.
Managing your affairs in later life can become more difficult and it is wise to nominate someone whom you trust to look after your affairs should the time come when you become mentally or physically incapacitated.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) enables you to choose who you would like to manage, or assist you to manage, your property, financial and general affairs should you become unable to manage them by yourself.

A second type of LPA is also available to nominate a person, or persons, to deal with personal welfare matters and decisions for you if you should ever become mentally incapable of making such decisions yourself.

In either type of LPA you can place restrictions on your attorneys and limit their actions under the LPA.

At St Helens Law, each LPA is drawn up to your specific instructions. St Helens Law can: –

  • Advise you on your choice of Attorney or joint Attorneys;
  • Advise you on restrictions or conditions you wish to include in your LPA;
  • Advise you on the duties of Attorneys;
  • Draw up the LPA for you;
  • Register the LPA for you, with the Office of the Public Guardian, so that it is ready for use when required.
The process of dealing with the administration of a Deceased’s Estate can be complex and time consuming.

Executors appointed by the Deceased’s Will (or Administrators appointed under an intestacy where the Deceased leaves no Will) are personally responsible for the proper administration of the Estate, which will involve: –

  • Submitting an Inheritance Tax account;
  • Obtaining the Grant of Representation (usually Probate or Letters of Administration);
  • Gathering in the Deceased’s assets;
  • Repaying any debts and liabilities;
  • Satisfying the beneficiaries legacies;
  • Setting up and dealing with the administration of any trusts set up under the Deceased’s Will;
  • Obtaining tax clearance;
  • Accounting to all residuary beneficiaries of the Estate;
  • Distribution of the residue of the Estate.

St Helens Law’s experience in Probate matters can relieve you from the burden of administering an Estate at a difficult time. St Helens Law are able to handle all aspects of the Estate from dealing with the courts and tax offices through to finalisation and distribution of the Estate.

Our services also include advice on post-death arrangements, such as Deeds of Variation of Estates where the Deceased’s affairs were not in order prior to their death and advice and assistance in dealing with contested Wills and Estates.

To contact our Wills & Probate team, please call 01744 454433, or click here to email probate@sthelenslaw.co.uk >