Wills and Probate Solicitors

Can you believe that over 70% of the UK population does not have a current Will that is an accurate reflection of their financial circumstances and the personal choices at the time of their death? Making a Will creates certainty, reduces worry and gives you the peace of mind of knowing exactly how your money, property and possessions will be dealt with after your death.

A Will should be like a tailor made suit – individual and perfectly tailored to suit the individual’s needs. Without a Will the law dictates who should benefit from your estate and this can include estranged members of your family whom you may not have ever met or even the Crown. Steed & Steed LLP will draw up your Will to deal with your assets in accordance with your instructions by your chosen Executor and is usually the first step to take in structuring your affairs in order to minimise your liability for Inheritance Tax.

Probate

When someone close to you dies somebody has to deal with their “estate”. A person’s estate is considered to be made up of the money, property and any possessions they had at the time of their death. The process of Probate involves collecting any money that is owed, settling any debts due (including outstanding taxes) and dividing the estate amongst the respective beneficiaries.

If there is a Will the estate will pass to the people named in the Will. If there is no Will certain rules known as the Rules of Intestacy will apply.

Whether you are an Executor or the next of kin, we can provide practical guidance to help you deal with the administration of someone’s estate. You will receive empathetic but professional assistance. Steed & Steed LLP are experts in dealing with all aspects of administration of Estates from obtaining Grant of Probate, completing Inheritance Tax forms to preparing detailed final estate accounts.

We can arrange for the transfer or sale of any shares for example and likewise work with our residential property team to handle the sale of any property or land owned by the deceased.

Inheritance Tax Planning

When trying to minimise the inheritance tax payable on your estate by your beneficiaries, there are many different options, depending on the circumstances. Subject to your particular situation, the size of your estate and various other factors, we can provide you with a list of options and their pros and cons, so that the tax can be substantially reduced.

Lasting Powers of Attorney (Property and Affairs) and (Personal Welfare)

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a document under which you can give authority to someone else (the attorney) to manage your financial matters including any property you own. The reason for appointing an attorney is to ensure that someone has the authority to manage your finances if you are unable to do so. You can only appoint an attorney whilst you have the mental capacity to do so. Therefore, timely action is all important. The LPA does not become effective until it is registered with the Court of Protection and you can specify under what circumstances your attorney may use it.

If you become mentally incapable of managing your finances and have not appointed an attorney under an LPA, an application to the Court of Protection to appoint someone as a Deputy would need to be made. This process can be lengthy and would cost more than that of making an LPA, and can place unnecessary strain on family members. Once appointed, the Deputy would then look after your financial matters but this could involve more administration on an ongoing basis than often is the case when an attorney is looking after your finances.

A separate LPA can be made for Personal Welfare under which the attorney can make decisions regarding your personal welfare. The procedure is similar to one for Property and Affairs but the LPA for Personal Welfare can only be used if you lack the capacity to make these decisions yourself.

For further information, please contact Karen Goulding or Leigh Gonella at our Sudbury Office on 01787 373387; or Sheila Lawson at our Braintree Office on 01376 552828.

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