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We understand that drafting a will is one of the most important moments in your life.
You will be making decisions which will ultimately affect the future of many of your loved ones – from whom receives inheritance to whom should care for your children if the worst happened.
Those are not easy decisions to make or to even think about. Nor is it easy if you’re the one faced with being responsible for overseeing how an estate is divided up. The chances are it will be a loved one and the experience will be upsetting.
Our lawyers understand this, they have loved ones just like you, and because that they always deal with their wills and probate clients with great care and sensitivity.
You might be unsure about how to plan your future, but you can be sure here at Setfords we’ll make the experience as painless as it can be.
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At Setfords our service is designed for your peace of mind. With highly qualified legal professionals at hand, our process will keep you updated every step of the way.
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Our wills and probate services
How do I change my name?
Although there is no legal procedure to be followed, many authorities and bodies will require some evidence that you have changed your name, and Setfords Solicitors can help smooth the process.
In the case of a marriage or Civil Partnership, the marriage certificate will serve for this purpose. Equally when getting divorced many women choose to revert to their maiden name and the Decree nisi or Decree absolute would act as proof to the change of name.
There are several methods of evidencing your chosen change of name, which one to use will depend of the body requesting the evidence.
A letter from a responsible person, such as a GP, solicitor, minister, priest or MP is often accepted as evidence that you have changed your name. The letter will state that the person has known you in both names and that the change of name is to be used for all purposes.
This service is only available to past clients of the firm where we have acted for the party who wishes us to confirm their change of name.
Please note: A letter is not sufficient evidence for a passport application.
A less common method of evidencing your change of name is by placing an advert in a local or national newspaper. The advert should state that you have stopped using your previous name and have adopted a new one. The advantage of this method is that you can produce a copy of the newspaper as evidence of the change along with the date on which it occurred.
Setfords Solicitors are able to assist clients with the preparation of the notice, however our fees do not include the newspaper' fees for running the notice which can be very high.
For most purposes, a statutory declaration is generally accepted as evidence of your change of name. Setfords Solicitors can prepare a statutory Declaration stating that you wish to cease using your old name and assume the adopted one from that day forward.
In addition to our costs the Statutory declaration will need to be witnessed by an independent solicitor. Once witnessed Setfords will provide you with two certified copies of the Statutory Declaration for you to use.
The most famous method of evidencing your change of name is by Deed (known as Deed Poll) The Deed formally records your change of name and is the most stringent of the above methods. Despite its fame, a Deed Poll will not be required by most people. You may need a Deed Poll if you belong to a professional Body or certain organizations who will only accept Deed Poll as evidence of the change of name.
Setfords Solicitors can prepare the Deed Poll for you and witness the execution of the deed. We will provide you with two certified copies of the deed.
Changing a child's name
As with adults a child' name can be changed at any time, provided it is not to deceive or defraud another person. Again there is no legal formality for changing the name however evidence may be required for certain purposes.
In order to change a child' name for purposes such as passports, doctors, Schools etc. the consent of all parties with parental responsibility is required.
Setfords Solicitors are able to assist clients with the preparation of evidence of change of name for a child on the basis of all parties being in agreement. Please note that additional charges apply.
What is a General power of Attorney?
A General Power of Attorney is a legal document allowing someone else (the attorney) the authority to manage your (the donor's) affairs for a set period of time.
Why would I need one?
The most common reason is because you want someone to be able to manage your affairs whilst you are abroad.
Mr. N worked abroad and owned a property in England which he instructed Setfords to sell. By granting a General Power of Attorney to his sister he was able to have her sign the documentation that was required on his behalf, thereby avoiding untimely delays due to overseas post.
What is Inheritance Tax?
- IHT is charged at 40% on all of a persons worldwide Assets over £325,000 (The Nil Rate Band)
- Inheritance Tax accounts for about 0.8% of government income and currently affects 1 in 6 people' estates
- More and more people are being caught above the nil rate band threshold with IHT raising the Treasury around £2 billion in 2001 and £3.6 billion in 2006
- Over £1 billion a year is paid in inheritance tax which could be avoided.
What are trusts'
Trusts are used to minimise the tax liability of a person' estate and to preserve capital.
A trust is simply a legal arrangement under which 'Trustees' hold assets for the benefit of one or more 'Beneficiaries'
There are a number of benefits of using trusts:
- To provide for your wife or husband after your death while protecting the interests of your children
- To use inheritance exemptions when you die
- To dispose of a business in a tax efficient way
- To protect the inheritance of young children
- To give away assets during your life but retaining control of them
- Income tax savings can be made
How can Setfords help you?
Setfords Solicitors Estate Planning can help minimise the Estates liability to IHT in a friendly and cost effective way.
We understand that everybody's objectives are different and we advise on a case by case basis after gaining an understanding of your particular circumstances.
The following are just some of the ways in which we can help you to minimise your estates liability to IHT
- The effect of the transferable 'nil rate band' for married couples
- Shifting the ownership of assets between spouses so as to minimise your wealth on your death
- Lifetime giving to children and relatives
- The various allowances allowed to individuals during their life and on their death
- Charitable giving that can reduce the value of the Estate below the IHT threshold
- Putting assets into trust so that they are not part of your estate on your death
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney
An LPA is a Legal Document under which you ('the Donor') can appoint one or more persons ('Attorneys') to act on your behalf. Unlike a normal Power of Attorney which will cease to have effect when the Donor loses capacity, an LPA will continue to be effective should the Donor lose the mental capacity to make such decisions at some future time.
Why make an LPA?
It allows the Donor to specify in advance trusted family, friends or professionals to make decisions for them, should they ever lose the capacity to make those decisions themselves.
If they lost capacity and had no LPA, the Court would be required to either make the decision or appoint someone to make decisions for that person.
There is no inherent authority for the family of someone who loses capacity to manage their affairs which can result additional concern and worry for the family.
Since 1st October 2007 the Mental Capacity Act 2005 created two types of Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs), both of which Setfords Solicitors can help you with:
Personal Welfare LPA
This is a new development and under this power the Attorney can make decisions about the Donors health and Welfare such as:
- Giving or refusing consent to medical treatment;
- Where the Donor will live and with whom;
- Being able to access personal information such as medical records;
- Day to day decisions such as what the Donor wears, what they eat and how they spend their day.
Property & Affairs LPA
This replaces the old 'Enduring Power of Attorney' and like its predecessor allows the Attorney to make decisions relating to the Donor' property and affairs such as:
- Buying or selling property,
- Managing investments,
- Running a business,
- Accessing and using your banks accounts, and obtaining financial information.
When to make an LPA
Many people do not consider what will happen to them when they loose capacity. Unfortunately by the time that they start to lose capacity to run their own affairs it is too late to create the LPA
Unlike the old Enduring Power of Attorney, before either type of LPA can be used, it must be registered with Office of the Public Guardian. However the LPA does not have to be registered immediately, therefore an LPA should be created sooner rather than later and held by the Donor until such time as they wish it to be or need it to be registered.
If having created the LPA the Donor changes their mind about who they wish as Attorneys or wishes to cancel the LPA, then even if registered they may cancel it at any time provided they have capacity to understand the ramifications of their decision.
How can Setfords help?
- If you would like to create a Lasting Power of Attorney, we can discuss this with you and draft the necessary documents.
- We will come to see you in your home so as to avoid the need to travel to see us if required
- We are able to act as Attorneys if the Donor wishes
- We are able to act as Certificate Providers
- We can advise the Attorney(s) on their duties, obligations and powers. We can also help you with any applications you are required to make to the Court of Protection.
- We can apply to the Court of Protection on behalf of the Donor or Attorney to register the Lasting Powers of Attorney.
- We are also able to assist people with registering the old Enduring Powers of Attorney, which are still valid provided they were created before 1st October 2007
What is Probate?
Unless the estate is particularly small (with no freehold or leasehold property such as a house or flat) the personal representatives of the deceased will have to obtain a Grant of Representation from the Probate Registry. This is a document issued by the court confirming the personal representatives entitlement to deal with the estate.
At Setfords, we are often able to advise our clients almost immediately if a Grant of Representation is needed. In the event this is required, we can handle all the necessary paperwork for you.
What if the Deceased left a Will?
If the deceased left a will, an application must be made to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate. The executors named in the will must distribute the estate in accordance with the will
What if the Deceased did not leave a Will?
If the deceased did not make a will and therefore died 'intestate', an application must be made for a Grant of Letters of Administration. The persons who can apply for these are governed by statute, but are usually the next of kin. The law will state how the estate is to be distributed.
What does an Executor/ Administrator do?
An Executor / Administrator is responsible for
- Notifying all of the creditors and debtors of the deceased and preparing the IHT accounts to be submitted to the HMRC
- Arranging to pay any Inheritance Tax that is payable on the Estate either form assets that can be released pre-grant or via a loan from a bank
- Applying for a Grant of Probate of the Will or Letters of Administration
- Paying the debts of the Estate
- Distributing the Estate according to the Will or Intestacy Rules
- Preparing Estate accounts showing the progression of the Estate
As can be seen there is a great deal to do and the executors are liable for any mistakes or delays in the administration of the estate. Setfords is here to remove the risk and hassle from your shoulders.
Do we have to pay Inheritance Tax?
Every individual has a tax free allowance of £325,000 (correct the time of writing November 2011) known as the nil rate band. Any estate worth more than £325,000 is charged Inheritance Tax. This tax must be paid before the Grant of Probate of the Will or Letters of Administration can be obtained.
If there is likely to be a large amount of IHT to pay, either on the estate now or by the family in the future, we will discuss this with you and, if necessary, the others involved, before the grant is obtained, to consider whether or not any action can be taken to reduce the amount payable.
How can Setfords Help?
When a loved one dies the last thing most people want to think about is sorting out their financial affairs. Unfortunately this has to be undertaken and Setfords Solicitors are here to help...
We provided a complete service including:
- Sorting through the deceased's papers and contacting the various creditors and debtor's of the deceased
- Obtaining valuations for the various assets of the Estate
- Preparing the Inheritance Tax Accounts which need to be prepared before an application for probate can be submitted
- Drafting the Oath for Executors or Oath for Administrators
- Collect in the Assets of the Deceased once probate has been obtained
- Distributing the Estate in accordance with the Will or intestacy rules
- Preparing the Estate Accounts
Although most people in the UK believe that at some point they will need a will, statistics show that 70% of people in the UK die without one.
Wills are not just a tool for the elderly or for the wealthy, they are an important legal arrangement to ensure that whatever your circumstances, you have the peace of mind of knowing your affairs are in order following your death.
Why do I need a will?
- If you die without a will it could result in your estate going to the Treasury rather than your loved ones or desired beneficiaries
- Unmarried partners cannot inherit from each other unless there is a will, so the death of one partner may create serious financial problems for the remaining partner and any children. Despite this 83% of unmarried couples do not have a will.
- If you have children, you will need to make a will so that arrangements for the children can be made if either one or both parents die. 79% of couples with children do not have a will.
- It may be possible to reduce the amount of tax payable on the inheritance if advice is taken in advance and a will is made
- You can set out your wishes for your remains, be this cremation, burial or medical research
- You can make sure that family businesses stay in the family and pass to those of your choosing. Not only is this peace of mind for you, but is also extremely tax efficient.
I already have a will?
- Wills should be reviewed at least every 5 years to ensure that they still adequately provide for your wishes towards your estate.
- You should always update your will after any significant change to your estate such as marriage, buying or selling a Property and the birth of children.
Why should I use a lawyer?
Some people write their own will or buy a pre-printed will from an on-line or high street provider. However putting in place a valid will that effects your intended wishes is a complex process and mistakes, which are easy to make, can render the will invalid.
Why should I use Setfords'
All of our advice is presented in plain English however there are some terms that by necessity are in 'legalese'. Please see our glossary for simple descriptions of the terms used by solicitors when preparing wills
At Setfords we provide discrete and comprehensible will advice at a realistic cost. By considering your personal circumstances we are able to assist you in deciding:
- Who you would like to manage your affairs following your death
- Who you would like to benefit from your estate and if children will be benefiting, when you wish them to receive their inheritance.
- Who should look after your children if you should die during their minority and how you can make your wishes for their upbringing known.
- If there may be any potential claims on your estate from family members that you have not included and how to minimise the risk of these claims succeeding.
- Whether or not your estate may be liable for inheritance tax and how this can be met and any liability minimised (For more information on IHT see our Estate Planning Page)
- What sort of will best suits your needs
What does a will cost?
The cost will vary depending on the complexity of your Estate and the requirements to effect your wishes please get in touch for a personalised estimate. Also remember to look out our special offers page for our latest discounts on will writing.