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.

Estate Planning Essentials: Protecting your assets for future generations

Estate planning is a vital component of financial management, often overlooked until it becomes a necessity. It is the process of organising and managing your assets, investments, and financial affairs to ensure that your wealth is protected and passed on to your loved ones, according to your wishes, in a way which maximises tax liabilities. Spending some money now on professional fees may save you hundreds of thousands of pounds in the long term.

Make a Will

We cannot stress enough how important it is to obtain legal advice and put a professionally drafted Will in place. A Will ensures your estate is distributed as per your wishes and can include Inheritance Tax planning.

Create Lasting Powers of Attorney

Who can access your bank accounts if you loose capacity? Who will decide where you live if you are unable to make that decision yourself?

These issues can easily be dealt with by creating Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), a document in which you appoint people you trust to act in your capacity to make important decisions on your behalf should you loose capacity.

There are two types of LPAs, a Property & Financial Affairs LPA and a Health & Welfare LPA. An LPA allows you to make provisions, in advance of deterioration of health, to ensure that your affairs are properly dealt with by someone you trust.

Inheritance Tax Planning

Inheritance Tax is the highest rate of tax in the UK, charged at 40%.

Every individual is entitled to a Nil Rate Band of £325,000.00 upon their death, meaning Inheritance Tax is only payable on assets over this amount.

But please don’t panic, there are ways to reduce the amount of tax payable:

  • Own your own home! If you own your own home, you can make use of the Residence Nil Rate Band which provides an additional allowance of up to £175,000.00 on top of the £325,000.00.
    *There are some additional requirements to obtain the Residence Nil Rate Band.
  • Get married! If you are married there is no Inheritance Tax payable on first death, and on second death you are able to transfer the unused Nil Rate Band from the first death, which is an additional £325,000.00. You can also transfer an unused Residence Nil Rate Band from first death too, which is a further £175,000.00.
  • Give away your cash! Take advantage of the annual gift exemption, which allows you to gift up to £3,000.00 to your loved ones each year.
  • Invest and trust wisely! Tax efficient investments, pensions, trusts and lifetime settlements can also help protect your wealth.

Care Planning

It’s crucial to think about the cost of care when dealing with your estate planning, which can be significant in some instances. Various options, such as Will Trusts, can be explored to address this issue.

Regular Reviews

We recommend you review your estate planning every 3 to 5 years, or when there is a change in your financial or personal circumstances or those of your loved ones. The law also may change and impact your estate planning, and you may need a professional to advise you on these changes.