Wills & Probate

A recent survey showed that over 60% of adults in the UK have not made a Will, and more alarmingly 74% of cohabiting couples do not have a Will.

Without a valid Will, your loved ones will have little control over the inheritance of your estate. Take control and make your Will today.

At Ringrose Law, we understand that preparing for the future and dealing with affairs after someone has died can be a very difficult and stressful time in anyone’s life. We also have the knowledge and experience to understand the importance of sorting out these matters and the importance of making sure everything is dealt with exactly as planned.

 

 

Our Wills and Probate team in Lincolnshire and Newark, are experienced in dealing with Wills, tax, probate, intestacy, lasting powers of attorney, trusts and everything else to do with planning for your future. Our dedicated, friendly and caring team of experts will take the time to be available to listen and understand your situation, before giving you clear and straightforward advice.

We will work with you to ensure your requirements are dealt with. Our team can provide you with the peace of mind that your last wishes are respected and your estate will be distributed the way you had intended after you have gone.

We offer expertise, experience, attention to detail, convenience and value for money. The team take the time to explain the legal issues to our clients in plain English without the use of confusing legal terms and phrases.

What is the difference between Wills and probate?

Wills and probate are terms used to cover the management of your estate after death. The term ‘estate’ covers all assets, money and possessions you own.

The difference between them lies in when and what each area does.

A Will is a document that you set out before your death. This document should cover;

  • what do you want to happen to your estate
  • who you want to inherit your estate and how much
  • who you want to be the executors of your Will to ensure it is carried out as you wanted
  • what should happen to your children if they are under 18 years old

Probate is the legal and financial processes that are involved in dealing with the estate and assets of a person who has died.

Before the executor of a Will is able to claim, transfer, sell or distribute any of the deceased person’s assets, they may have to obtain a grant of probate.

This is a legal document obtained from the courts that grants the executor authority to manage the estate and assets of the person that has died.

If a Will has not been left, a grant of letters of administration is applied for instead. Letters of administration work in the same way as a grant of probate by allowed the named person legal authority to the estate.

What happens if you do not have a Will?

If you do not have a Will then your estate and assets will be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy.

Intestacy is a set of distribution rights set out by law. It dictates who and how much certain persons in your family will be entitled to based on the value of the estate. If you are not married or have no living family then your estate will be passed onto the Crown.

The rules of Intestacy means only those that you are married or related to will receive a portion of your estate. There are some individuals who will not be entitled to inherit anything from you. This includes:

  • unmarried partners (even if you live together)
  • partners not in a civil partnership
  • relations by marriage
  • close friends
  • carers

Intestacy may mean someone may get an inheritance that you might not have wanted. Or it could mean people who you did want to inherit your estate, do not get anything. Getting a Will written can ensure that your estate is distributed as you wish once you are gone.

What is the purpose of a Will?

A Will ensures that your estate and assets are distributed along the lines of inheritance that you wish for. Without a Will, your estate will be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy.

Intestacy is a set of rules in law that shares out the estate and assets of a deceased person. These rules are based on the value of the estate and the relationship a person has with the deceased.

Any relationships are treated in a priority manner tied to family relatives and marriage or civil partnerships.

This may mean that someone may inherit parts of your estate that you did not wish for. It also means that couples in a relationship who are not married, will not be entitled to anything under the rules of intestacy.

What causes a Will to go to probate?

Wills need to go to probate when the assets mentioned in the Will are the type that requires a Grant of Probate.

A grant of probate is a court document that an executor of a Will can apply for. In simple terms, this document is proof from the courts that the deceased has passed and the executor is entitled to access to the assets mentioned in the Will. This document can then be used to get access to assets held in the deceased person name.

For example, a grant of probate may be required for:

  • Access to bank accounts
  • Access to stocks and shares
  • Ability to sell any home or property

Parties, such as banks and building societies, will need to see the grant of probate before they allow you access to the deceased persons’ assets.

Can I make my own Will without a solicitor?

There is no need to have a Will written without a solicitor. However, if you write a Will that is invalid, then it could be open to being contested. This may mean that your Will may be disregarded.

Additionally, if your estate is large or you do not want to divide your assets in a straightforward way, then writing your own Will can become complicated. This could also impact the validity of your Will.

A solicitor that is trained in Will writing services will be able to ensure that your Will is legal. That it is not open to interpretation or being contested. As a result, you can be sure that your inheritance wishes are followed through.

How long does probate take?

The probate process takes around 12 months on average to complete. This can be longer for more complicated estates.

The process involves submitting an application for grant of probate to the courts. This application can take up to a month to complete. Depending on how busy the courts are, you could then be waiting between four to six months for your application to be granted.

Once your grant of probate has been approved, it could then take several months to communicate with various parties to get access to assets such as bank accounts.

Because probate can happen during a very emotional time, recruiting a solicitor to manage the application and courts can lighten the burden of the process for you.

Who is can see a Will after death UK?

Unlike what we see on television and in films, there is no such thing as the ‘reading of the Will’ after someone has passed away. The only person who is entitled to see a Will after death is the named executor of the Will. Only at the executor’s discretion, they are able to show other people the Will.

Beneficiaries of the Will are not legally entitled to see the Will after death. However, they can see it if the executor choices to show them.

Only when a grant of probate has been confirmed, the details of a Will becomes public knowledge. This means anyone can apply to the courts to get a copy of the Will.

What would make a Will invalid?

Wills can be considered invalid if there is evidence that:

  • the Will has been forged
  • the deceased lacked mental capacity when writing their Will
  • the deceased was manipulated or pressured when their Will was written
  • the Will wasn’t signed or witnessed properly
  • the deceased didn’t know and approve the contents of their Will.

When a Will is found to be invalid, then the previous Will shall be applied. If there wasn’t a previous Will, then the rules of intestacy will apply instead.

Can my Will be changed after death?

If your Will is valid, then it can not be changed after your death.

However, beneficiaries can decide that they may not want their inheritance or that they wish it is distributed in a different way. For example, they may wish that their inheritance from you goes directly to their children.

What is an executor?

An executor of a Will is a person named in the Will whose responsibility it is to sort out and distribute the inheritance of the deceased person. The executor is also responsible to sort out any remaining debts of the deceased persons.

It is the legal responsibility of the executor to deliver the Will as the deceased person intends. This means that the executor is not able to change the Will however they want.

What should I do first if I am an executor of a Will?

Being an executor of a Will comes with a lot of responsibility. It is a role that can involve a lot of time and work during a difficult time. Some responsibilities that are involved with being an executor are:

• registering the death

• getting copies of the will

• arranging the funeral

• valuing the estate

• taking responsibility for any property

• applying for probate

• sorting out finances

• distributing the estate

• paying any Inheritance Tax

The amount of responsibility can feel very overwhelming. Particularly as it is unlikely you have ever done anything like this before.

Contacting a probate solicitor can be a useful first step. They’ll be able to help you understand the Will and your responsibilities. They can help you in delivering on some responsibilities such as applying for probate and paying any Inheritance Tax.

Our probate solicitors can also recommend additional support services such as therapists, accountants and conveyancing solicitors.

Contact our Wills and Probate team today

For further information and advice on any matter contact our Wills and Probate team today. We have offices across Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, in Boston, Grantham, Lincoln, Newark, Sleaford and Spalding.

We trust that these notes will be of assistance to you but they must only be read in conjunction with specific legal advice as to your particular circumstances. They are not intended to be a full and precise exposition of the law. For full advice and representation please contact us directly.

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