Importance of a Will Archives - MLP Law

The Importance of a Will in Simplifying the Probate Process

The importance of having a Will in place cannot be overstated. In other blog articles, my colleagues have discussed the importance of a Will and the various reasons why it is crucial to have one in place to ensure your wishes are carried out by your chosen executors and that any individuals you do/do not wish to benefit have been fully considered. There are also the tax and asset protection implications that having a professionally drafted Will in place will provide.

However, an additional reason to have a Will in place is when it comes to after your death and the process of obtaining a Grant of probate for your estate by your executors. Sometimes a client will say to me ‘Do I need a Will if the intestacy provisions will have the same effect as a Will to my wishes?’. This would for example be in the case where a client who was single (with no spouse or partner or a widow(er)) and was leaving their estate to their children in equal shares. In this instance, not having a Will would mean that under intestacy (not having a Will), the children would all be entitled to act as administrators of the estate and beneficiaries in equal shares.

Well, a major reason is the current severe delays at the Probate Registry, which unfortunately show no sign of abating. Having a Will in place usually means that the online probate application service may be used. If you do not have a Will, with only a couple of exceptions, then your case will not be able to be dealt with via the online service, and an ‘old fashioned’ paper application needs to be made for probate. Paper applications are submitted to the Newcastle Probate Registry only (rather than for dispersal to any of the other registries around England and Wales as happens with the online applications). Consequently, the delay for paper applications is closer to 6 months or more, rather than the 16 weeks that we are currently advised that online applications will take.

In my recent, professional experience, cases that would have been dealt with much sooner and more easily, with less delay and expense to the estate could all have been solved if the deceased had had a Will in place – even a simple Will that may have reflected the position on intestacy. Thousands of pounds in costs and weeks of delay may be averted for your family after your death if you have put in place a Will before you die.

A professionally drafted Will provides you with the peace of mind and assurance that your wishes have been confirmed for your executors to carry out and that probate will be dealt with on a much simpler and more streamlined basis than if you do not have a Will in place.

Additionally, if you hold assets abroad such as a holiday home in Spain, then having a Will in place for each jurisdiction where you hold assets will also massively simplify the administration of your estate post-death and again, will save your executors and family thousands in fees and months in delay if you have a Will for each country where you hold assets. Again, the Will does not need to be complex necessarily, and your Spanish Will may reflect exactly the same wishes as your English Will. The importance of having both documents comes after death and in the probate process, which is speeded up considerably by having separate wills in place.

The reasons for having a Will in place are many and varied. As a senior solicitor within the Wills, Trusts and Probate Team at mlplaw, for any advice or questions regarding this blog or wills and probate in general, please do contact me for a free 30-minute consultation on 0161 926 1538 or dorisr@mlplaw.co.uk and I would be pleased to assist.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls in Estate Planning

In order to avoid common pitfalls in estate planning, it is essential to take expert advice and our team at mlplaw are ideally placed to offer you tailored advice to ensure your estate planning is undertaken effectively and efficiently. Here, we detail the most common pitfalls made in estate planning.

 

  1. Pitfall One – Not Making a Will

A Will is the most important estate planning document that you should have in place, whether you are married, single, have children or not. A Will is the only document which deals with the whole of your estate (barring some assets such as pensions or life policies) and how it will be transferred following your death. The value of a Will should not be underestimated and the time and cost devoted to its preparation should reflect its importance and value. Ensure you review your Will regularly.

 

  1. Not Taking Proper Advice as to Inheritance Tax

When seeking advice regarding your Will, it is also important to consider the tax implications to give effect to your wishes in the best interests of your intended beneficiaries. Do not undervalue this exercise or cut corners. A well drafted will ensures your estate can take advantage of all available tax reliefs.

 

  1. Make Proper Provision for Blended Families

Second and third marriages are no longer uncommon, creating difficulties where there are children from the previous relationships which each party to the marriage wishes to ensure benefit from their share of the estate whilst also ensuring that the surviving spouse can continue to occupy the family home and receive the income they need. Where Wills do not fully appreciate and understand the complexity of these arrangements, the result can be that the children of one party to the marriage miss out on what would otherwise be their share of the estate, and this can lead to expensive claims and litigation over the administration and distribution of the estate later. Once again, careful estate planning and a well-prepared Will should help to avoid those consequences.

 

  1. Asset Protection

The desire to keep things simple must be weighed against the need to provide the protection that beneficiaries require. Where a potential beneficiary of your estate is young or disabled or not able to manage their money, there are ways in which the estate can be protected for their use and benefit by using the appropriate forms of trust. Trusts can also offer protection in the longer term against the possibility of a beneficiary divorcing at some point in the future and also lead to longer term IHT savings for the family.

 

  1. Family Disputes

If you are intending to exclude a close family member from a Will, or to leave your estate in unequal shares between your children, then it is essential to take professional legal advice as to the possibility of post-death claims and how to take steps to try prepare for such claims by  the careful drafting of your Will and any ancillary statement of reasons.

To ensure you avoid the above pitfalls and that your estate is planned to provide for your chosen beneficiaries please contact wtp@mlplaw.co.uk or call on 0161 926 1538 to speak with one of our experienced and friendly lawyers.