There is no one answer about how to do your Will. It all depends on your assets, your circumstances and who your beneficiaries will be.
You need to make a will that makes your wishes clear, that avoids confusion and conflict amongst your loved ones, and that is legally valid and binding. Doing this will protect your family and friends from costly and stressful legal disputes.
Things you need to consider
Who will be your Executors?
Your Executors have the legal and administrative task of sorting out your assets and debts after you die and making sure that your wishes as outlined in the Will are upheld.
Who will be your beneficiaries and what effect will their inheritance have on their circumstances?
You can designate anyone as a beneficiary and distribute your assets in any way you like, however, if you don’t provide for your family and dependents, your will can be contested and your hard-won assets used on litigation fees.
You also should consider the effects that an inheritance may have on your beneficiaries. In some cases, a testamentary trust can sidestep potential taxation problems, so it’s important that you get specific advice about your situation.
How do you know a Will is valid?
To be valid, the person making the Will must be mentally competent, the Will must be correctly signed and witnessed, and show no evidence of tampering. The witnesses to the Will cannot be beneficiaries, or related to beneficiaries and must be over 18.
If there is any doubt, or potential for dispute as to your mental competence, you should get a doctor’s confirmation of your capacity to make the will and include it with your Will.
How often should I review my Will?
You should certainly review your Will after any major events, such as marriage, divorce, property purchase or sale, death of a beneficiary or if your assets change significantly. We also recommend that you take a look at your Will every couple of years just to make sure that it is still the best instrument for you and for your family.
We can help
We know the potential pitfalls, and will ask you all the right questions to make sure that you have considered every possibility. We can advise you as to whether you would be best with a Will or a Testamentary Trust. We can design your Will in such a way to help protect your family from expensive estate litigation after your death and we can safely store your Will in our secure vault.
At Rosewood Law we understand that dealing with a deceased estate is one of the more difficult challenges in life. From mountains of paperwork to legal jargon and simmering family disputes, they’re the last things you want to deal with when you’re grieving the loss of someone important in your life.
So, let us help you by:
- Interpreting the Will of the deceased in terms of estate laws
- Advising executors and trustees in regard to their duties and rights
- Informing government bodies
- Applying for Probate of the Will
- Dealing with intestacy (where there is no Will)
- Applying for administration rights if the Will is deemed invalid or is absent
- Identifying estate assets and liabilities
- Obtaining valuations of estate property
- Collecting estate financial assets including superannuation, bank funds, shares, outstanding loans, and insurance payouts
- Selling or transferring estate property including estate auctions
- Paying estate debts including mortgages, funeral costs, and testamentary expenses
- Advising in regard to family and testamentary trusts
- Administering trust funds
- Distributing bequests and inheritances to beneficiaries
- Organising information for estate tax returns
- Family mediation and negotiation
- Contesting wills and defending estate litigation
Our Probate Team has many years of experience collectively in delivering high quality work in all matters relating to Wills and estate administration. In particular, the team has particular expertise in high value estates and Inheritance Tax matters. The team is made up of the following members:
- Sarfraz Suleman – Director and Head of the Probate and Administration Department and Solicitor
- Peter Hogan – Consultant
- John Swindell – Consultant
Please refer to the individual biographies in respect of each member of our team which sets out their experience and qualifications in relation to the administration of estates.
We do not charge for an initial consultation about the estate of a deceased. This gives us an opportunity to discuss how we can help in relation to the administration of an estate and we can discuss with you what our likely costs are to be.
In terms of charges for handling the full process of administering an estate, we would always provide you with an estimate which sets out a minimum and maximum charge.
In terms of the administration of an estate which does not involve the payment of Inheritance Tax and does not require the submission of an Inheritance Tax Account and if the value of the estate does not exceed £300,000.00 gross, our fees are likely to be between:
£1,000.00 plus VAT of £200.00, amounting to £1,800 and £3,000.00 plus VAT of £600.00, amounting to £3600.00 We record all time spent and consider both time spent and the value of the estate when determining our charges.
There are various factors which affect this range which are as follows:
- Value of the time recorded
- The size of the estate
- The number of individual assets held and liabilities which need to be investigated
- The number of executors and beneficiaries
- The level and detail of information provided about the deceased and their assets.
Please note that the average estimate provided above is based on an average estate which is administered. We will provide, in relation to each estate, either a full specific quote or estimate which can always be obtained before we proceed to undertake any work.
There will be estates which do not fall within the standard average estate cost for which we would provide a bespoke estimate/quote. Estates which fall outside the average range are likely to apply to the following:
- The estate value exceeds £300,000
- If Inheritance Tax is payable
- The preparation of a full HMRC account in respect of the estate
- Any investigation which has to take place of previous lifetime gifts made by the deceased
- If it considered that significant time will need to be spent on the collection, securing, collation and sale of specific assets, including a property
- The complexity of the assets held in the estate, for example if the deceased owned a business or if the deceased was a beneficiary of a life interest trust
- If there are concerns about the validity of any Will
- If there are disputes between beneficiaries on how the estate should be distributed
- If there are potential claims pending against the estate for unreasonable financial provision
- If there are issues identifying and locating beneficiaries
- If the Will being administered has a degree of complexity, including whether or not there are any trusts involved in connection with the Will and whether or not there are any minor beneficiaries.
In these types of cases you would not normally pay fees in excess of 1.5% of the estate value, with VAT at 20% in addition.
Disbursements are costs relating to the administration of an estate that are payable to third parties, such as Probate Court fees. We will handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf and the following is a summary of the likely disbursements:
- Probate Court fee – £273 – if the value of the estate exceeds £5,000
- Additional copies of the grant of representation – £1.50 each – one is usually needed to deal with each asset
- Bankruptcy search against each beneficiary – £2.00 plus VAT of £0.40, totalling £2.40
- Valuation of assets, including property, jewellery/antiques and share valuations – usually not exceeding £300.00 plus VAT of £60.00
- Fees payable to trace any missing beneficiaries – variable and usually between £50.00 plus VAT of £10.00, totalling £60.00 and £300.00 plus Vat at £60.00.
- Obtaining copy documents such as grants of probate and marriage certificates to claim any transferable Inheritance Tax allowances – variable and usually no more than £20
In every case we carry out identification checks on the deceased, the executors and any beneficiary who inherits more than a quarter of the estate – £5.00 plus £1.00 VAT totalling £6.00 per check.
Stages in Connection with the Administration of the Estate
In terms of administering an average estate, it can take about 4 to 6 months to obtain a Grant of Probate. Collecting the assets then follows the issuing of a Grant of Probate, followed by distribution.
Therefore, after a Grant of Probate has been issued, it is likely to take a further 1 to 3 months afterwards if the assets are all capable of being collected at that point.
In terms of an overall timescale, for the average estate it takes between 3 to 12 months to administer and often this depends on whether or not there is a property which has to be sold in an estate.
Once we have provided you with a quote or estimate, this will cover the following work:
- Ascertaining the value of all the assets held in the estate, which includes the balances held in any bank or building society accounts, the value of any shares and other investments and any properties which are owned
- Identifying the legally appointed executors or administrators and beneficiaries of the estate
- Accurately identifying the type of probate application which will be required
- Completing the relevant H M Revenue & Customs forms and if the estate is subject to Inheritance Tax, arranging for the payment of any tax to be made
- Preparing the Oath papers for swearing by the personal representatives to enable us to submit an application to the Probate Registry to obtain the grant of representation, which is the formal authority to handle the assets and distribute the estate
- Arranging to collect in the assets of the estate and paying any funeral expenses and other debts
- The preparation of an estate account in respect of monies received and paid out on behalf of the estate for your approval, prior to distributing the estate
- Answering any enquiries from the Department for Work & Pensions in the event of any benefits being received during the lifetime of the deceased
- Finalising the Income Tax affairs of the deceased
- We will NOTassist with claims against financial services providers for the mis-selling of financial products. This will include but is not limited to claims in relation to Payment Protection Insurance and pension mis-selling
Need expert advice? Let us help
To discuss any aspect of this area of law please contact:
- Sarfraz Suleman 01254 460600
- Peter Hogan 01254 460600
- John Swindell 01254 460600
Contact us to find out more or to arrange an appointment.