Tag: Will

Why make a will?

If you die without leaving a valid Will, then the law decides how your estate is distributed, regardless of any wishes you had or promises you made during your lifetime.

The Intestacy Rules

If you are married, or registered civil partners, and have children

If your estate is worth less than £250,000 then your husband or wife gets everything.

If your estate is worth more than £250,000 then your husband or wife will get £250,000, all personal belongings and one half of everything over this sum. Your children would be entitled to the other half of the sum over £250,000, equally between them if more than one, held on trust until they are 18. Should any of your children die before you, then their children would be entitled to take their parent’s share

If you are married or civil partners and have no children

Your husband or wife receives your entire estate.

If you are not married but have had children

Your estate will be shared between your children equally but it will be held on trust until they are 18.

If you are not married and have no children but do have surviving relatives

Your estate goes to your relatives, depending on who survives you, in this order of priority: parents; brothers / sisters; half brothers / sisters; grandparents;
aunts / uncles; half aunts / uncles.

If you are not married and have no other relatives

Your estate will go to the Crown.

The intestacy rules do not recognise “common law” partners, and “children” includes adopted and illegitimate children but not stepchildren.

Everyone should have Will, but it is of exceptional importance if:

  • you have been married more than once;
  • you have young children for whom guardians should be appointed;
  • you want to provide for a child who is not your own;
  • you are separated or divorcing;
  • you run a business and wish to plan for succession.

Making a Will is the only way to make sure that your wishes are carried out after your death. We offer a bespoke Will-making service, and we ensure that we take the time to discuss all aspects of your assets and potential estate before we start to prepare your Will. We are happy to answer any questions you may have relating to inheritance tax and trusts, legacies and residuary gifts. We will provide you with a draft of your Will and explain it fully to you, giving you the peace of mind of knowing that your estate will be handled in the way you wish if the worst were to happen.

To discuss this and to obtain more information contact:
Emily Payne at Dickins Hopgood Chidley Solicitors,
The Old School House, 42 High Street, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 0NF 01488 683555

What to do when someone dies

There are many matters which require consideration at this difficult time. This summary is to assist you in dealing with the first steps.

Immediate steps:

  1. Register the death at the register office – 01635 279230 (West Berkshire) or 0300 003 4569 (Wiltshire)
  2. Find out if there were any specific wishes about funeral arrangements (this may be in the Will);
  3. Organise the funeral;
  4. Notify friends, relatives and employers / employees
  5. Put notice in the newspaper.

Practical Matters:

  1. Cancel all deliveries (papers etc.);
  2. Remove valuables from his/her home;
  3. Redirect mail;
  4. Inform the building, contents and car (if appropriate) insurers;
  5. Arrange for the immediate welfare of any pets. The Deceased may have provided for their long term care in his/her Will

Collect the following information:

  1. The Will;
  2. National Insurance Number, tax office and reference number;
  3. Date and place of birth, and date and place of marriage or civil partnership.
Will, Personal attorney  in Berkshire

Notify:

  1. The executor of the Will, and if there is no Will, an administrator of the estate will need to be appointed in accordance with the probate rules;
  2. If you need any help speak to a solicitor

Contact in due course:

  1. Banks and building societies;
  2. Department for Work and Pensions if receiving any benefits;
  3. Pension providers;
  4. Solicitor and accountant
  5. Deceased’s tax office;
  6. Landlord if deceased lived in rented property;
  7. Local authority – council tax, parking permit or if a blue badge was held for disabled parking;
  8. Care providers (Social Services or private provider);
  9. Insurance companies: travel, private health care, etc;
  10. Life insurance companies;
  11. Mortgage provider;
  12. H.P. or loan companies, credit and store card providers;
  13. Utility companies – water, electricity, gas and phone;
  14. TV/Internet providers;
  15. DVLA and passport office;
  16. Clubs and associations;
  17. Dentist or other healthcare
    providers;
  18. Creditors – anyone they owed
    money to;
  19. Debtors – anyone who owed
    them money;
  20. Digital account providers –
    email, social media, Amazon,
    eBay etc.

A solicitor can assist in notifying all the relevant organisations and obtaining the information required to apply for the Grant of Probate. Don’t forget, we are here to help as much as you would like.

To discuss this and to obtain more information contact:
Emily Payne at Dickins Hopgood Chidley Solicitors,
The Old School House, 42 High Street, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 0NF 01488 683555

Trusts explained

What is a trust?

In principle, trusts are a simple concept. They are a private legal arrangement where the ownership of someone’s assets is transferred to someone else to look after and use to benefit a third party.

The person giving the assets is usually called a “settlor” (or “testator” if it is done by Will). The people asked to look after the assets are called “trustees”, and the person benefitting is the “beneficiary”.

The distinctive feature of a trust is the separation of legal and beneficial ownership of the asset(s) involved. The trustees legally own the asset, but they must always put the interests of the beneficiary above their own. The settlor can be a trustee, but they must still act in the interests of the beneficiary, not themselves.

Trusts can take effect during the settlor’s lifetime or within their Will.

Why use a trust?

Trusts are very common in everyday life and most of us will come into contact with them at some point. Company pension schemes, for example, are usually structured as trusts, and trusts are commonly used for charitable funding.

For most people however, the type of trust they are most likely to come across personally is a trust established for managing their family’s finances.

Some common situations are:

• To provide for a husband or wife after death while protecting the interests of children in the long term;

• To protect the inheritance of young children until they are old enough to take responsibility themselves;

• To provide for vulnerable relatives who need support to look after their affairs;

• To help succession planning in family businesses.

Trusts are particularly useful when planning how money and assets should pass from one generation to another, especially when there are divorces or second marriages involved.

Are trusts secret?

Trusts are personal arrangements, and most people expect them to be kept confidential. Quite often, even beneficiaries of a trust may not be aware of it, possibly because a parent would prefer their children not to know that they are at some point going to receive benefits from it. Recognising this, there is no requirement to register a trust or to publish the names of the parties involved. However the tax authorities will generally need to be informed of the establishment of a trust and any suspicious activities should be reported and investigated, so trusts are not regarded as “secret”, but their confidentiality is generally preserved.

Trusts and Tax

Trusts are often represented as being vehicles to avoid tax. In reality, there are virtually no circumstances in which anyone would be advised to set up a trust to gain tax advantages. In setting up a trust, the settlor is giving up ownership of the asset and such a dramatic move only normally makes sense if the settlor has clear objectives for this, and tax is likely to be a secondary issue.

Any tax advantages given to trusts are tightly targeted by tax authorities to those seen as doing social good, such as charitable trusts or those benefitting a vulnerable relative. Even then the rules are policed closely. Most other trusts attract few tax advantages.

The official position in the UK is that trusts are tax-neutral, although many professionals now think that the UK system penalises some types of trust. In line with the official policy, trustees must give HM Revenue full details when a trust is established and are generally personally liable for the taxes due on the trust.

Seek Advice

Anyone considering a trust, whether during your lifetime or in your will, is advised to seek professional assistance, to ensure that all options are considered and that the trust is suitable for you and meets your requirements. The tax consequences of the trust should be discussed in full so that you are fully appraised of your position.

To discuss this and to obtain more information contact:
Emily Payne at Dickins Hopgood Chidley Solicitors,
The Old School House, 42 High Street, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 0NF 01488 683555

Providing for someone with a learning disability

Someone signing a will - Legal advice to help you provide for someone with learning difficulties


If you leave money to a relative or friend with a learning disability, or die without making a will, it could have unintended consequences.

  • If your relative or friend cannot manage their own money, the Court of Protection may need to become involved to assist in looking after the legacy. This can be complex and time consuming, and there are fees involved.

  • The person with a learning disability may have impaired understanding of the value of money and may be vulnerable to other people taking advantage of their new found wealth.

  • If the person concerned is receiving state benefits, the receipt of a legacy is likely to affect the amount to which they are entitled. Most benefits are subject to the person holding less than a statutory maximum of capital.
  • You may think of leaving your estate to your other children to use to help your child with a learning disability, but that may not be an appropriate solution, as there is no legal obligation on them to use it in that way, and the money might be treated as their money if they were to divorce, or go bankrupt, or die, or if they needed to claim benefits themselves.

    Discretionary Trusts

    The solution is to set up a Discretionary Trust within your will. You will appoint trustees who will support the person concerned to manage money and to make decisions as to how it should be used. The trust fund can be used to provide luxuries and additions to the person’s day to day needs, as well as having the flexibility to benefit other members of the family if needed.

    Contact Us

    A Will like this should be made by a solicitor who has experience of these types of wills. A Will is vitally important, particularly in these circumstances, and you should consider all the options with your solicitor who will write a will to suit you.

    To discuss this and to obtain more information contact:
    Emily Payne at Dickins Hopgood Chidley Solicitors,
    The Old School House, 42 High Street, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 0NF 01488 683555

    What is probate?

    Probate legal advice in Berkshire, image shows a person reading documents

    Probate, what is it? When a person dies, someone has to deal with their affairs and decide what will happen to the things they owned.

    Executors

    The executors are the people appointed in a Will to deal with the estate of the person who has died. An administrator is the person who deals with the estate of a person who has died without a Will (intestate). They can both be called personal representatives.

    Executors can arrange the funeral and take charge of the house and possessions, unless they automatically pass to a joint owner.

    If there are sufficient assets the executors will have to apply for probate. This is the legal document proving the Will and authorising the executors to deal with the assets and liabilities of the estate.

    Applying for probate

    To apply for probate, the value of all of the deceased’s possessions, assets and debts has to be ascertained.

    If there is, or could, be Inheritance Tax to pay, the executors must report the value of the estate to HM Revenue. If the estate is not liable to IHT the executors must still complete a form giving details of the assets and certain gifts made by the person who died. This must be arranged before an application is made to the Probate Registry.

    Once the matter of inheritance tax is resolved, an oath is sworn by the executors or administrators, confirming that they will administer the estate. When probate is granted, the executors have the right to deal with the assets and property of the deceased, including closure of bank accounts, sale or transfer of shares, transfer or sale of property, and payment of debts and expenses etc.

    Executors are responsible for distributing the estate to the beneficiaries of the Will. Administrators must follow the ‘rules of entitlement’, which govern who will benefit from the estate of a person who has died intestate (without a will).

    Instructing Us

    Instructing a solicitor to act for you if you are an Executor or Administrator has the following advantages: –

    1. It reduces the distress of dealing with the property and assets of a close relative or friend.

    2. A solicitor advises on whether or not Inheritance Tax is payable and if so, how and when it must be paid. Inheritance Tax is complicated and in most cases you will need specialist legal advice. A solicitor will complete the lengthy inheritance tax return.

    3. Financial institutions have different requirements to be met before they will release the deceased’s assets. A solicitor will be familiar with these procedures.

    4. Administering an estate can be lengthy and complicated. A solicitor will be used to the complexity and be able to commit the time needed to sort out the estate.

    5. A solicitor can deal not only with Inheritance Tax but also with income tax and capital gains tax arising during the administration of the estate, for which tax returns are required.

    To discuss this and to obtain more information contact:
    Emily Payne at Dickins Hopgood Chidley Solicitors,
    The Old School House, 42 High Street, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 0NF 01488 683555

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