Wills & Probate News
Why do I need a Will?
In order to ensure that your assets pass to the people you wish to benefit, you need to make a Will. Many people are under the impression that assets automatically pass to a spouse, but this is not necessarily the case. If you die, and have not made a Will, then your estate would pass under the intestacy rules. These are quite complex but, generally speaking, if you are married with children then the spouse receives a statutory legacy of £125,000. Anything over and above that amount would be divided so that half passes to the spouse for his/her benefit during his/her lifetime and the other half passes outright to the children. On the spouse’s death that half share passes outright to the children.
This could cause concern if the family home is worth more than £250,000 since the statutory legacy could leave the survivor not owning the home outright. It is especially important to make a Will if you have a partner but are not married. It is a misconception that the partner would be entitled as a ‘common law wife/husband’.
The intestacy rules make no direct provision for a child to inherit anything from a deceased step parent, even if treated as a ‘child of the family’. There are also tax planning opportunities available under a Will and, as of December 2005, same sex couples who have registered a Civil Partnership will have the same tax saving opportunities as married couples.
What is a Grant of Probate?
A single sheet document which bears the seal of the Probate Registry and is legal proof that the executors are entitled to claim the assets of the deceased in their capacity as personal representatives. It enables the executors to administer the estate according to the Will of the deceased or the intestacy rules if there is no Will.
How long does it take to get a Grant of Probate?
This depends on the complexity of an estate. Firstly, a valuation of all of the assets of the deceased must be obtained, along with ascertaining any debts. Secondly, the appropriate Inland Revenue forms are then completed and, depending on the size of the estate, any inheritance tax needs to be paid. Then an application for a Grant of Probate is then submitted to the Probate Registry and the Grant is usually issued within two to three weeks thereafter.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Lasting Powers of Attorney came into effect on 1 October 2007 and in the case of financial matters replaced Enduring Powers of Attorney. In both cases an individual may appoint another person or persons to deal with his or her affairs when he or she is no longer able to do so. A Lasting Power of Attorney may enable an attorney to deal with the personal welfare matters in addition to that individual’s property and affairs. The attraction of Lasting Powers of Attorney and Enduring Powers of Attorney is that they remain in force even when a person has lost capacity to deal with his or her affairs.
A Lasting Power of Attorney cannot be used until it has been registered at the Office of the Public Guardian. Registration does not have to take place immediately, but it should be borne in mind that the registration process takes at least six weeks and there is not a fast track system. A fee (presently £150) is payable upon registration.
Existing Enduring Powers of Attorney (i.e. those made prior to October 2007) will continue to be effective under the new law.
If you require any further information or advice, please call Salena Dawson and Co. on 01953 883535 for an appointment.