Wills, Probate & Powers of Attorney

Elderly Clients, Wills and Probate

Elderly Clients

What can we do for you?

Through assisting our more elderly clients with their affairs over many years we have built an enviable reputation in helping them in three particular areas:

  • Wills – a legal document setting out your wishes on your death
  • Powers of Attorney – giving a chosen person or people authority to act on your behalf
  • Probate – the process of winding-up a person’s estate after their death

Helping our clients get peace of mind, we have a knowledgeable, experienced and sympathetic Wills and Probate team dedicated to achieving the best possible arrangement of their affairs.

So, how may we help you?

Wills

What is a Will?

A Will is a document that comes into effect when you die in which you identify what you want done with your ‘estate’ (the things you own). In it you choose who is to be responsible for the administration of your estate (the executor) and give them all the powers they need to do this. It can minimize the effect of taxation; it can include express provisions about the disposal of your body and who you would want to be responsible for the guardianship of your minor children.

Why make a Will?

If you do not have a Will, statutory rules leave everything to your next of kin in a fixed rank order. For example, a Spouse or Civil Partner and any children would share an estate exclusively if they survived you, with the Spouse or Civil Partner entitled to a fixed statutory legacy; the remainder would be left in two trust funds partly for the benefit of the Spouse or Civil Partner and partly for the benefit of the children.

These fixed statutory rules do not provide for an unmarried partner not in a Civil Partnership, friends or charities you may have supported.

If you have no next of kin, and do not leave a Will, then the whole of your estate will go to the Crown.

Do I need executors?

Statutory rules require specific people to act as the administrators of your estate whether or not they have the necessary skills and whether or not they are able to work together. For example, if you have been married before and have adult children from both marriages, all your children would be equally entitled to act as administrators in your estate. They may never have even met, know what to do, or be able to get on with one another. This is why some of our clients may wish to appoint us as executors on their behalf.

Are Wills just for the elderly?

We all wish for a long and happy life but the same reasons to make a Will apply to everyone. Whatever your age, if you do not make a Will your estate may:

  • not pass to those people you wish to benefit
  • pass in different amounts or proportions to those you would choose
  • not be dealt with in the most tax efficient manner
  • be dealt with by people you would not have chosen.

If you want to know more about protecting your estate, call us on +44 (0)20 8420 7950 and speak in confidence to one of our advisors or Email info@slp.uk.com

Lasting Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney gives a chosen person or people authority to act on behalf of the person granting the power (the donor). This power can be in relation to specific actions or of a more general nature and are often used by clients fearing failing health.

Before October 2007 anyone wishing to put in place a Power of Attorney, which would continue to be effective even if the donor lost the capacity (through illness or accident) to handle his or her own affairs, executed an Enduring Power of Attorney. An Enduring Power could be used immediately, if desired, and only needed to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian if the donor lost capacity. Any Enduring Powers of Attorney made before 1st October 2007 remain valid and can continue to be used, although they must still be registered if the donor loses capacity. This is an area where we may be able to help established Powers of Attorney.

Since October 2007, however, anyone wishing to give a power of attorney must appoint them under a Lasting Power of Attorney. These are rather more complex documents and one of the most important differences between the old Enduring Powers and the new Lasting Powers is that the Lasting Powers must be registered before they can be used at all. We, therefore, recommend that newly granted Lasting Powers are registered immediately to ensure that there are no delays if and when the Power needs to be used. Registration takes between 2 and 3 months because of the statutory notice period and a delay of that length of time could cause great difficulties at what might well be a very worring time.

Very few of us do not know someone who, through illness or accident, has lost the capacity to handle their own affairs. Understandably, this can be a very emotional situation and needs to be handled with sensitivity and care. Without an existing Enduring or Lasting Power of Attorney an application must be made to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order. This Deputyship Order can involve considerable time and expense and it is very much easier if there is the appropriate protection in place first.

If you want to know more about protecting your interests in this way, call us on +44 (0)20 8420 7950 and speak in confidence to one of our advisors or Email info@slp.uk.com

Probate

Probate is the term generally used when describing the winding-up of a person’s estate after their death. In fact, Probate actually refers to the grant obtained from the Court where someone leaves a Will, whereas if there is no Will (an intestacy), the grant is called ‘Letters of Administration’.

As an executor to a Will, often, in order to deal with an estate after death, it is necessary to obtain a Grant either of Probate or of Letters of Administration, which involves reporting the assets and liabilities of the estate to H M Revenue and Customs; paying any tax due at that stage; and applying to the Probate Registry for the grant.

Whether you are acting as an Executor of a Will or as an Administrator on an intestacy there are quite a number of legal obligations of which you should be aware and matters can become complicated both in relation to the estate itself and, sometimes, because of the family circumstances of the person who has died. This is where our specialist advice can be so helpful.

If there is no Will it is obviously of great importance to establish who is entitled in law to share in the estate and what those shares are – again, we may be able to help here.

If you have suffered a bereavement and/or need advice about Probate call us on +44 (0)20 8420 7950 and speak in confidence to one of our advisors or Email info@slp.uk.com