Jeffrey Mills Solicitors
JEFFREY MILLS SOLICITORS
- The Importance Of Making A Will
November - January 2018
Feeling confused and alone after losing someone close is normal, but it appears these feelings are being made worse when it comes to dealing with the deceased’s estate.
Whilst it is common knowledge that having a Will is important, many people either do not get around to making one, or do not update it when circumstances change e.g. family extends to include more children or reduces due to death or divorce.
But what affect does this have on the ones left behind?
Sally Power, head of Wills and Probate at Jeffrey Mills Solicitors commented, “Unwittingly people are being left to go through a minefield of documents and in some cases going to court or mediation to agree who should have what.
Your next of kin is not 100% likely to inherit your entire estate (or an equal share).
Unfortunately it is a very easy position to leave your loved ones in, no matter how unintentional.
It is often something on the end of an ever growing ‘To-Do’ list, and as we do not have a crystal ball it is unlikely you will ever know when it is required, which is why I advise
to revisit your will every couple of years.”
Sally added, “It is a common misconception that you need to be rich to have will. A will is an
important document regardless of your wealth (including possessions), or age, and it safeguards a person’s right to many decisions, including who serves as a guardian for young children.
It is very important that you make sure your will is legally binding, otherwise your loved
ones could still be left in the same situation. “
Who is responsible if you don’t have a Will?
For those who are in a situation without a will, a talk with your local solicitor is crucial – it is often the nearest blood relative who will be legally responsible for administering the estate following the government guidelines, called the intestacy rules.
How to find a loved ones will.
Due to there being no national database, wills are often found in either their personal belongings or held by their solicitor or bank (this should be a free service) – where they were created.
It is common place for a family member or close friend to have been asked to be the executor (the person who they wish to take responsibility for carrying out the instructions in their will) in which case they may know where it is stored.
What to do when a Will is found.
When found and legally binding, the wishes laid out within the will are carried out by the executor who is responsible for sorting out their property, possessions, investments, money, debts and registering the death (the registry office of births, marriages and deaths, will help you through the process).
How to value and split the estate.
In order to ascertain the value of the estate the executor is required to contact everyone
connected with the estate including money, property, possessions, debts, bills and loans
which need to be repaid.
The inheritance tax returns forms and calculations of tax due, in the allowances is required in the first six months afterwards, which is when the fist tax must be paid (from the estate).
If the total of the estate is cash up to £15k it may be possible to sort everything yourself, however if it totals to more (or from other sources than cash) a grant is required to apply to the court (called a probate registry).
Many people prefer to instruct a solicitor to make the application, which can take around 10 days, however you can apply yourself but it will take longer as you need to attend in
person for a court interview, where you will agree to take personal financial responsibility
if you make mistakes. (Known as swearing an oath for executors or administrators.)
The grant will then allow executors/administrators or solicitors acting on their behalf to
collect assets and start processing them, including using money to pay off debts. This is a lengthy process and includes many steps including dealing with any legal action, where someone feels unfairly left out etc.
Preparing the Estate Accounts.
This is an official record of the estate – what came in/out/interest earned/what happened to the rest, followed by the final distribution to beneficiaries (who should each receive a tax certificate) and obtaining closure letters from HMRC in connection with tax paid. The process is long and can be very confusing and daunting, especially at an emotional time
which is why many seek the help of a solicitor, which can be sought at any time.
No one should be left in the dark at a time of unrest.
As well as kindly providing this article Jeffrey Mills Solicitors are on hand to explain processes and anything you do not understand.
A wealth of factsheets can also be found on their website which explains different aspects of law further.
Should you require legal assistance from a firm with family values and a fresh approach, contact Jeffrey Mills Solicitors.
Tel: 01480 219600