What is Probate?
Probate is the legal and financial process involved in dealing with the estate of a person who has died. This includes organising their money, property and possessions (also called ‘assets’) and distributing them in accordance with their Will, or if they have not left a Will, under the intestacy rules.
The first step of probate is that the executor must apply for the Grant of Probate which is a legal document giving them the authority to deal with the deceased’s assets.
What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document which states how you wish your assets and property to be distributed following your death. A Will should be drawn up by a Solicitor to ensure it is legally binding. You are able to make changes to your Will throughout your lifetime should your circumstances change.
Do I need a Will?
It is recommended that everybody has a Will as it sets out your wishes following your death. If you die without a Will in England or Wales, the Courts will decide how your possessions are divided.
A Will is an in-expensive document which details how you want your possessions to be divided after you have died.
What are Executors?
Executors are people that you name within your Will who will ensure your wishes are carried out after you have passed away. They will be responsible for notifying people that you have died, arranging your funeral, dealing with any debts you may have, paying tax bills, collating information and then distributing your possessions to your chosen beneficiaries.
Executors can also be named in your Will as beneficiaries.
What happens once my Will is prepared?
Once we have prepared your Will we will store a copy for you free of charge. We also suggest that you keep a copy and inform your Executor(s) where it is stored, or alternatively, provide your Executor(s) with a copy.
Following your death your Executor(s) will need to locate your original Will. If you fail to tell anyone where your Will is or with which Solicitor you prepared it with, it may prove difficult to locate. At Coles Solicitors we provide you with a credit card type document which says you have your Will stored with us. This is great to pop into your purse or wallet or leave it somewhere in your house where it can be easily found.
Once we have confirmed the identity of your Executor we are able to provide them with a copy of your Will so they can take responsibility for your wishes.
Can I change my Will?
It is recommended that you update your Will if circumstances in your family life or relationships change. You can make as many amendments to your Will as necessary and each version will supersede the previous.
If you have given copies to your Executor(s) please remember to give them an updated version, provided they are still named as Executor. We will store the updated version of your Will free of charge.
Can my Will be challenged?
Although your Will is a legal document, it can be challenged. For this reason we encourage you to discuss your Will with your nearest and dearest. If, for whatever reason, you have chosen to exclude a close family member or relative who would assume some benefit upon your death, we suggest that you discuss this with them prior to making your Will, or include a letter to your Executor(s) detailing why they have been excluded. This can be kept with your Will and upon your death can be discussed if your Will is being challenged.
Can I do anything about Care Home fees?
A Will can be used to protect your estate against the impact of care charges. If you own a property jointly with your spouse or partner then a Will can set up a trust which ring-fences half of your home.
How do I ensure my young children are provided for?
In the unfortunate event that you leave young children upon your death then your Will will set out how your estate and finances will be managed. Your estate will be managed by your Executors and Trustees and they can ensure that your assets are used to provide suitable care for your children. Your Will will also state the Guardians you wish to be appointed to care for your children, providing there is no other surviving parent with parental responsibility. The Guardians can approach the Trustees for help in providing financial support for your children.
Can my daughter be an Executor and Beneficiary at the same time?
You need to choose one or more executors to manage your affairs after your death. You can choose a wife, husband, or partner, and you can also choose your children or a friend. Your executor can also be a beneficiary of your Will. Sometimes it may be a good idea to choose a professional; such as a solicitor or accountant. Occasionally there are estates which are complex, or families with issues, and you may wish for an expert to handle these types of inheritance. Some people appoint their solicitor along with a family member.
Can I use a trust to protect my wealth?
You've worked your whole life to build up your assets and to enjoy a comfortable way of life. You want to be sure this is protected upon your death and rightly so. The use of a trust in your Will, or during your lifetime, can be very helpful for placing assets out of your estate. This can ease the burden of inheritance tax, and may also be appropriate for protecting vulnerable family members.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney, often referred to as an LPA, is a document which states that you have chosen someone to act on your behalf and make decisions for you if you lose mental capacity. This is increasingly popular for people who are in later life. There are two types of LPA:
- Property and Financial
- Health and Welfare
A Property and Financial LPA covers decisions regarding money and property and a Health and Welfare LPA covers decisions regarding your health and personal welfare.