Categories
Probate

Is Probate Always Necessary in the UK?

probate service

13th June 2022

If you have been named the Executor of an estate, you may wonder if probate is needed when the person passes away. There are different factors used to determine the answer to this question.

Knowing whether or not you have to apply for probate is essential. If you don’t apply for probate, and you should have, beneficiaries may not be able to access assets left to them in a will.

Understanding what probate is and determining if you need to apply for it or not may seem overwhelming. Let’s take a closer look at what probate is and how to know if it is necessary in your particular case. 

What is Probate?

Probate is the process of administering the estate of a person who has passed away. The executors or administrators of an estate can do nothing with the property in the estate until it has gone through probate.

When You Should Apply for Probate

Before the Executor can do anything with the deceased’s assets, they have to apply for a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration if there are deceased left assets in sole name. You may need to apply for a grant of probate if the deceased left a will, and the Grant of Letters of Administration may be necessary if there is no will. 

If There Was a Will

You will typically need a Grant of Probate if the person who passed away leaves any of the following:

  • An account with a balance of around £20,000 and above.  Typically, the bank or Asset provider will set its own rules.
  • Shares or stocks
  • Certain types of insurance policies that have not been written into trust
  • Land or property in their sole name or as ‘tenants in common’

If any of the above is true of the estate, most institutions will require the Grant of Probate before transferring the assets.

To apply for the Grant, the executor must have the original will along with any codicils. A codicil is an addition to the Will.  

If There Was Not a Will

If there was no will, you can apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration if you eligible under the intestacy rules. The priority list is as follows: spouse or civil partner, children (excluding step-children), grandchildren (if children have already passed away), parents, siblings (if their siblings have died, their children), grandparents, and finally uncles, aunts, or cousins.

Up to four people with equal entitlement can apply on the same application if they wish to do so.

When Probate May Not Be Necessary

Many times estates do not need to go through the probate process. Some of the instances where an estate can avoid probate are as follows:

  •  If the estate only consists of property that is joint ownership or if there are assets that pass to a spouse or a civil partner when one of them dies
  • If it is a small estate and the deceased had no property, land, or shares in their name. There is no clear cut definition of a small estate. It can range anywhere between a value of £5000 to £50000.
  • If the person was insolvent, meaning that they had more debt and expenses than they had funds to pay them.
  • An insurance policy in the form of a trust. In this case, the trustees will need to provide a copy of the insurance policy and the death certificate.

And while these situations can help you avoid probate, there is the possibility of contentious probate. Contentious probate happens when a person disputes a will or how the deceased’s estate was handled. If this happens, even if the estate wouldn’t have to go through probate, there is a process that it will have to go through before the estate can be settled.

Let the Experts at Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors Help You Navigate Probate

If you are left to finalise the affairs of a loved one after they have died, you are already going through a very difficult time. The probate process can be complicated, and adding complications to this challenging time is unnecessary.

Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors are here to help you work through all of the procedures required in probate. We will work to finalise the estate of your loved one as efficiently and effectively as possible. We understand that each family we work with deals with different circumstances, so we provide personalised service for each customer.

To discuss your specific situation, contact us today for a consultation.

Categories
Lasting Powers of Attorney

Lasting Power of Attorney: Why You Should Not Do It Yourself

lasting power of attorney solicitors

3rd June 2022

Having a lasting power of attorney (LPA) in place is one of the most logical and important decisions you can make in your life. When deciding to create an LPA, you may ponder the thought of a do-it-yourself LPA instead of enlisting the help of a solicitor. Creating your own LPA may seem cost-effective at the time, but in the long run, it can cost more than you may know.

If an LPA is completed incorrectly or information is missing, it can be left open to abuse or can even be deemed invalid. In this article, we will be addressing the risks of creating a DIY lasting power of attorney and what could happen if your LPA is considered invalid.

What a Lasting Power of Attorney Does

An LPA is a legal document that allows the donor (that’s you) to appoint individuals (referred to as the attorney) who can make decisions for you if you become unable to make those decisions yourself. The two types of LPAs are Health & Welfare and Property & Financial Affairs. In the case of either LPA, you can name one person as your attorney, or you can name multiple people who will work together to make all decisions.

Health & Welfare LPA

A Health & Welfare LPA will give an individual that you trust the authority to make decisions on your medical care. Some of these decisions can include:

  • Medical treatments you receive
  • Where you receive care
  • What type of care that you receive
  • Assistance with daily routines such as eating or washing

Property & Financial Affairs LPA

In a Property & Financial Affairs LPA, the appointed attorney makes decisions regarding your assets. The person you name as your attorney should be someone you trust, as they will have access to personal information. Some of the decisions that your attorney can make may include:

  • Paying household and medical bills
  • Collecting and claiming benefits
  • Maintaining property that you own
  • Selling property that is in your name

Risks of a DIY Lasting Power of Attorney

Having an LPA will give you peace of mind knowing that someone you trust will be in charge of making decisions on your behalf if something happens to you. However, more and more people are turning to templates to create their LPA without seeking the advice of an experienced solicitor. Here are some of the risks you take when drafting your own LPA.

The Application May Contain Mistakes

The Office of Public Guardian (OPG) has reported that approximately 15% of the LPA applications they receive contain errors. When an application contains errors, they either cannot register the application, or the process will take longer than usual.

The Applicant Doesn’t Have Full Mental Capacity

If the donor doesn’t have the full mental capacity to understand what they are doing and the consequences of their actions when creating an LPA, the LPA is not valid. The Court of Protection will then step in and appoint a deputy to make the necessary decisions for the donor.

Fraud

One of the biggest dangers of a DIY LPA is that someone with dishonourable intentions could influence the donor into signing something without fully understanding the ramifications. When you enlist the help of a solicitor in drafting your LPA, not only will they ensure that the document is correct, but they also provide support and advicel to the donor. In addition, they can ensure that the appointed attorneys are aware of their duties and know the limits of their power.

Also, to be valid, an LPA requires a certificate from an independent third party that confirms the donor understands the document’s purpose and the powers they are giving to the named attorney. When you work with a solicitor, they can provide that certificate.

What Happens if You Don’t Have a Valid LPA in Place

If something happens to you and you do not have a valid LPA in place, your loved ones would have to apply with the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order. It can take months for a Deputy to be approved, and during this time, all of your assets will be frozen. When the courts are left to appoint a deputy, there is also the risk of having a deputy appointed that you would not have chosen yourself.

Allow Us to Assist You With Vital Estate Planning Documents

Powers of attorney are valuable estate planning instruments because they enable people to nominate others to manage their financial and healthcare matters if they are no longer able to make choices for themselves. Estate owners, on the other hand, should exercise caution when selecting an agent.

At Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors, our estate planning lawyers can assist you in establishing or revoking your Lasting Power of Attorney and avoiding future issues. 
Contact us today to discover more about all the vital legal advice or get answers to any related questions you may have.

Categories
Equity Release

Equity Release FAQ: How Long Does Equity Release Take when you instruct us?

equity release

13th May 2022

If you are a homeowner who is 55 or older you may have considered equity release to access extra cash. You may also have wondered how long it would take to get cash in your hands if you decided to go that route. Although timeframes vary on a case to case basis, the process of equity release typically takes eight weeks from start to finish.

While it’s important to know how soon you will receive funds, it’s also essential to understand the process. This article will explain the process you will encounter when choosing equity release.

Advice From an Equity Release Specialist

The first thing you need to do before getting an equity release is you need to speak to an Equity Release Specialist. During these meetings, you will learn what services they offer, and they will ask about your circumstances and your requirements. After learning more about you and your situation, they will be able to recommend the course of action best suited for you.

Legal Advice From Your Solicitor

We will contact you when we receive the documentation from your Lender’s Solicitors. 

We will arrange a meeting to provide you with legal advice about your equity release. You are required to obtain independent legal advice which we are happy to provide. We will send the completed mortgage documents to your Lender’s solicitor. They will give us a completion date when they have all the documentation.

Requisitions

Your lender’s solicitor may have questions or require more documentation after reviewing your mortgage documents. If there are no issues with your documentation, there may not be any requisitions, and you may immediately receive a completion date. However, if their solicitor raises requisitions, it is hard to say how long it will take to issue a completion date.

A reasonable estimate is to allow approximately one to two weeks to receive a completion date.

Completion

When we receive your funds from your Lender’s Solicitors, we will send you a Completion Statement before we send you your monies. We will send the monies using a CHAPS transfer which means that you will you could receive your money the same day. 

Get Trusted Legal Advice During the Equity Release Process From the Experts

While some of these steps will take longer than others, they are all mandatory steps. If there is a specific date that you need funds, communicate this with your equity release advisor immediately.

The mission of the expert legal team at Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors is to deliver the highest quality legal services to clients in a timely manner and at an affordable price. Our team has over a decade of experience providing clients with assistance with wills, probate, lasting powers of attorney, and equity release.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Categories
Equity Release

Is Equity Release Right For You? Know the Advantages and Disadvantages

10th January 2022

The decision to buy or sell a home is perhaps the single biggest financial decision the average person will make in their lives, and the same can easily hold true when it comes to equity release. This process of selling (“releasing”) some or all of the equity of your home can be hugely beneficial to people over 55 years old, but can also come with noticeable consequences if you are unaware of the process. 

Advantages of Equity Release

General Benefits

The primary advantage offered by equity release is the opportunity to give lifetime gifts to your loved ones which reduces your estate for inheritance tax purposes.  This also means that if you ever go into care, your children or loved ones would have had an opportunity to benefit from your estate.

Your Mortgage Broker will advise you about the advantages and disadvantages of any of the equity release products before you start the process.

The Key Step? Being Informed

Equity release can be a complicated subject and there is a wide range of problems that can arise if you commit to such a scheme without being fully informed. We will be happy to help you with the process after you and your Mortgage Broker have chosen the right equity release product for you.

At Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors, we specialise in the legal matters most relevant to seniors – equity release, wills, probate, and lasting power of attorney. With a friendly, approachable team and more than 10 years of experience in the field, we’re here to protect your interests and answer your questions about the legal matters relevant to your life. 

Contact us today for a consultation!

Categories
Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors

Do I Need to Update My Will Every Year?

Do I Need to Update My Will Every Year?

10th November 2021

Making a Will is no easy feat. It can be overwhelming as well as mentally and emotionally draining. You have to confront the mortality of your own life but also choose who will handle finances and personal matters after you’re gone – making this decision can feel stressful at times for many people.

However, once completed you Will likely feel an incredible sense of peace from knowing your wishes are set in stone should anything happen. However, it’s important to update your Will periodically to reflect important changes in your life, your finances, your property, or your family.

How often do you need to make changes to your Will? Does it need to be updated annually?

The answer isn’t as simple as a yes or no. You can’t simply look at the date on the Will and know when the next revision is due. Many factors influence how frequently a Will needs to be updated — and we’re going to look at a few to help you determine when you should update yours.

Updating Your Will

You should review your Will at least every 5 years and sooner if there are any major changes to your assets or family. Update any significant changes that have happened in life. Ideally, you want to report your changes immediately, but sometimes that is not always possible. So it is best to set up a reminder to check your will every few years if 5 seems too long of a wait.

What Life Changes Require a Will Update?

There are changes that can happen in life that warrant a change to your existing Will. Here are a few of the most common ones.

  1. The birth of a child.  Your children should be added to your Will as substitute beneficiaries if your present Will does not mention them. If they are under 18 years old, we advise that you appoint guardians to look after them on your death.
  2. There is a divorce. In many situations, people do not make changes to their Will until after the divorce is final. Don’t wait. Do it as soon as possible. Changing the Will before the divorce excludes the spouse inheriting especially if you die before the divorce is made final.
  3. Your beneficiaries develop problems. You may choose to change the beneficiaries if you have one in your will who has developed an addiction or credit problem. You may want to make sure funds are distributed correctly and to your best discretion. 
  4. Your named Executor or beneficiary passes before you do. If anyone named in your Will passes away before you do, you will need to update your Will to remove them and replace them with someone else. 
  5. New legislation has passed. Sometimes the laws change.  Review your Will every 3 to 5 years to ensure that it reflects any changes in the law.
  6. You inherit. If you’ve inherited some money, received a substantial amount of money from a family member or friend, or perhaps an inheritance, your Will will need to be updated depending on if you plan to leave some of this money to a beneficiary or even a charity. 
  7. You bought property. If you buy property, that is an asset, and your Will needs to accurately instruct the executor what to do with it. 
  8. You moved to another country. If you move to another country and own property there.  You should have a Will in a country in which you own a property.
  9. You can’t find your original Will. If you’ve misplaced your original Will, it is best to create a new one and revoke the old one. Photocopies or your originals can be proved if you can’t find the original but the process is expensive and time consuming.  It is better to use the opportunity to update your Will.

It’s No Secret That You Need a Will

To ensure your estate is taken care of promptly, a Will or a Trust is the best course of action. Your loved ones will be able to handle your last wishes with ease when they are outlined clearly and tax preparations are accounted for.
Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors are at the ready with an experienced and considerate team to assist you with your estate planning needs. Contact us for more information about writing your Will, as well as your other legal needs for probate, lasting powers of attorney, equity release, and settlement agreements.

Categories
Equity Release

Things You May Not Know About Equity Release

life interest trust

30th September 2021

You may have heard or seen advertisements for equity release. You could be considering the option, however there are implications you may not have thought of, therefore it is important to understand what it means for you, your future, and your beneficiaries. 

What Is Equity Release?

Equity release is an option if you are over 55 and if you have equity tied up in your home. The benefit of equity release is that you can take money from the equity in your home, which can be released as a lump sum or in smaller installments to pay for things you need now. Payments can also be in a combination of both lump sum and installments. 

Taking advantage of the equity release program may seem like a no-brainer, but it is not as simple as it may seem, which is why it is important to consult a solicitor so you are able to make informed decisions about your financial future. 

What You May Not Know About Equity Release

Equity release is an excellent way for homeowners to access funds to help with their finances during retirement.  It also helps reduce your estate for inheritance tax purposes if your estate is over the inheritance tax threshold.  It can also help you pass some of your estate to your loved ones before you require it for care fees. Please contact an Equity Release Broker for specific advice about the correct product to suit you.

How can we help?

After you have spoken to an Equity Release Mortgage Broker or Provider, they will ask you to appoint a solicitor to advise you about the Mortgage Deed that you will be required to sign.  They also need to ensure that you have been advised that your beneficiaries will get less from your estate.   The Mortgage Deed is a legally binding agreement so the Provider will ensure that you have obtained independent legal advice.  Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors is experienced in this area of law and will help you navigate it to ensure that you get your monies as quickly as possible.

What Is The Equity Release Council?

The Equity Release Council is an organization whose mission is to promote safe equity release plans.  It also regulates the Solicitors that work on your behalf to ensure that you receive a quality service from your Equity Release Brokers, Solicitors, and Providers.

What Happens With Long-Term Care Decisions?

When moving to long-term care, the Equity Release mortgage will come to an end. At that time, your home is sold, and the Equity Release Provider will have their mortgage paid from the proceeds of the sale of your property. If you have a spouse and only one of you moves to long-term care, the spouse may remain in the home until they pass away or move to long-term care. 

This is where Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors can help. Our friendly team prides itself on answering all the questions you might have about equity release and helping you make the right decision for your future. We believe that everyone should be treated with respect, kindness, and receive personal service that meets their needs. 

Contact us today and see if equity release is right for you.

Categories
Will

What Should I Include in My Will?

man with glasses

29th September 2021

Most of us know we should have a Will, especially once we have children, homes, or other significant assets. However, it can seem quite daunting trying to learn where to begin and what to include. 

You probably have many questions about drafting a Will. Fortunately a solicitor can guide you through the process. However, you will need to prepare and have the correct information before we can draft your Will

In this article, we will demystify the process and ease the concern of what to include in your Will. We will discuss questions to consider upfront as well as how to update your Will. Having this information before meeting with a solicitor allows you to prepare everything you need before we meet. 

What Should You Prepare Before Instructing Us to Your Will?

A Will is a legal document that defines how to distribute your assets after you pass away. There are considerations as well as documentation that you need  before we can  draft your Will.  

Remember your Will can be updated whenever your circumstances in your life change. 

Before meeting with a solicitor the two most important steps to take are these:

  •  List your assets and their estimated value, as well as all debts, such as a mortgage or credit cards that you have. 
  •  Prepare a list of your beneficiaries. These beneficiaries can be family, friends or charities.

What Should You Include In Your Will?

Your Will will be used by your loved ones to distribute your estate.  Without a valid Will, your assets will be distributed according to the intestacy rules.  They define who gets your estate.  This might not be what you want..

Above all, it is crucial that your Will be legally valid and binding. Although you can create a Will without a solicitor, you leave yourself open to making mistakes that may have significant  repercussions to the distribution of your estate.

Below are the 5 most important considerations when writing your Will

#1.  Assets and Debts

It is important for your solicitor to know your assets and liabilities so that they can advise you whether your estate will pay inheritance tax and how to avoid this significant expense.  There is no inheritance tax payable between married couples.  However, if your children are due to inherit your estate,  at that point inheritance tax may be payable if it is over the taxable threshold.  We will guide you through the process and give you options to protect your estate.

Include all assets in your Will with a current valuation. ,  Periodically update the list and include any gifts you give in your lifetime.  

Assets

In short, an asset is anything of value. List and maintain a list of all assets, account numbers, passwords, etc. Assets include but are not limited to: 

  • Bank accounts
  • Retirement plans
  • Investments
  • Cash and cash equivalents
  • Safety deposit boxes
  • Real estate
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Pensions and loved ones you have nominated to benefit from them
  • Artwork, jewelry, furniture
  • Intellectual property such as royalties, copyrights, patents

Debts

Debt is anything owed.  Draft and maintain a list of all debts and their account numbers, the amount owed, etc. Debts to consider include, but are not limited to:

  • Mortgages
  • Credit cards
  • Bank overdrafts
  • Loans
  • Equity release

#2.  Distribution Of Assets

The distribution of assets is the delivery of assets to your beneficiaries

It is beneficial for you to plan what happens if any of your beneficiaries pass away before you? It is good to have substitute beneficiaries so that your estate always has beneficiaries.

If you want to set up a Life Interest Will Trust to ring-fence your assets, now is the time to do it. The purpose of ring-fencing is to keep your assets from ending up with someone you had not intended. For example, if you chose your spouse from a second marriage but do not want the assets to end up with their own children, a Life Interest Will Trust can be used to ring-fence your share of your property for your children.

Secondly, a  Life Interest Will Trust can help preserve your estate from care fees if you are a couple and the surviving partner requires care.

#3.  Charitable Donations

Your Will can include any charitable donations you would like to make.  Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors will include the charity’s name, address, and registration number to ensure the assets go to the correct charity.

#4.  Name an Executor

Be sure to include a named Executor in your Will. You may have more than one Executor but let them know and tell them what  their role will be.  It could involve a great deal of work, and they may not be interested or prepared to take on that level of responsibility. Always discuss the matter with the person you wish to appoint before your Will is drafted. It is better to find out now that they don’t wish to be named an Executor. 

#5.  Include Your Signature

For a Will to be considered valid, it needs your signature, and that of two witnesses. These witnesses should be independent and not one of the beneficiaries of the Will. We provide a Will signing service to ensure that the process is done correctly.

How Do You Update Your Will?

Your Will can and should be updated periodically. At least every three to five years. 

Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors Specialises In Wills

Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors are at the ready with an experienced team to assist you.  Contact us for more information about assistance with your Will, as well as your other legal needs for Probate, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Equity Release, and Settlement Agreements.

Categories
Will

I Got Divorced. Should I Change My Will?

How Should I Change My Will

22nd September 2021

When you’re going through the emotionally draining divorce process, your mind probably isn’t on how you should update your Will. Divorce proceedings can become complicated.  It is understandable that you might forget about your Will entirely as you work towards finalising your separation. 

However, if you find yourself wondering if you should change your Will following a divorce, the answer is unequivocally yes.

There’s a mistaken yet prevalent belief that getting divorced will automatically invalidate your Will. While some changes do take place, it is important that you revisit and update your Will to reflect your wishes, going forward.

In this article, we will explain why you should always change your Will following a divorce. As experts in Wills and Trusts, we know the consequences of forgetting this crucial step and want to help you avoid making this critical mistake. 

Not Changing Your Will After Divorce Has Consequences

We advise clients to update their Will at the start of (or during) the divorce process or once it’s final. It can feel like a lot of work on top of everything else, but your lawyer can help you navigate the complexities. 

If you choose not to update your Will, there will be new complications in executing your last wishes.

Before finalising your divorce, all appointments and gifts given to your ex-spouse will remain in place, including executorship and guardianship positions. Even if you separated many years before divorcing, these clauses will remain valid unless you have a decree absolute

After you’ve received your decree absolute, however, your ex-spouse will be considered dead for the purposes of a Will.

Dying Before Finalising a Divorce

Because a divorce happens in steps, it isn’t recognised as final until you receive the decree absolute. Should you pass away before  your new Will is finalised., the law will still recognise all appointments and gifts given to your spouse in your previous Will. 

If you don’t have Will when you die, the intestacy rules will come into play but will act differently. Instead of going through your family, and if you don’t have children, the estate will go to your ex-spouse. If you have children and your estate is over £270,000, they will receive a share of your estate instead.

Therefore to avoid this complication it is crucial that you have a Will. Having a Will is the only method for ensuring your wishes are followed.

Ensure Your Future With Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors

To make sure your final wishes are recognised and honored, you need to review your Will regularly.  Ideally, this should be done every three to five years so that it reflects any changes  in your life. 

At Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors, we can help you plan your future by writing and revising your Will, obtaining Probate, drafting Lasting Power of Attorney and Equity Release. Each of these processes poses its challenges, but our firm has the expertise and compassion to help. 

Contact us to discover what we can do for your future.

Categories
Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors

What Should You Never Put In Your Will?

probate lawyer

10th September 2021

When making your Will, things such as how you want your assets distributed after you die, naming a guardian for your children, and choosing an executor of your estate are core elements to include. But did you also know that there are things that you cannot put in your will?

Writing a Will is one of the most important and worthwhile things you can do in your adult life. But, unfortunately, if you pass away without having a valid Will, your property will be divided according to the rules of intestacy, regardless of your intentions.

To avoid this, you must make sure that you have a legally binding Will that states your intentions in no uncertain terms. However, there are certain types of  property that you cannot put in your Will, and other items that you should think twice about including. 

Property That You Cannot include in Your Will

Certain types of property already have specific rules regarding what happens after an owner passes away. Due to these rules, you cannot include these types of property in your will.

Joint Tenancy Property

Joint tenancy property grants a right of survivorship to the joint tenant of the property automatically after one party passes away. When you pass away, your share of the property will automatically pass to the surviving joint tenant regardless of what your will states.

Property Included in a Trust You Created for the Benefit of Someone Else

Setting up a trust can be advantageous if a beneficiary is disadvantaged or vulnerable. When you set up a Trust, you need to identify the beneficiaries for the property included in the Trust. 

Joint Accounts

Since there is a second person listed on a joint account, such as a joint bank or savings account, you cannot include this type of account in your Will. Upon your death, the other owner of the account will automatically become the sole account holder and. take over said account.

Life Insurance Policies With a Beneficiary

The beneficiary you have nominated in your  life insurance policy will automatically receive the proceeds of your policy when you pass away. The only exception to this is if you have not made a nomination in which case the life insurance policy proceeds will pass under your estate.  This may increase any inheritance tax liability and result in more tax being paid which could have been avoided..

Benefits From a Pension

Your pension benefits Will pass according to the rules of your pension provider.  Please find out whether you are allowed to nominate a beneficiary so that it passes outside your estate and reduces any inheritance tax liability. 

A Business Partnership

If you are a partner in a business and you pass away, the surviving partner(s) may receive your share of the company depending on your Articles and Memorandum of Association if it is a Company. We will advise you as to what you need to do depending on what type of business.

Property You Don’t Own

You cannot gift property that you don’t own. It is not possible to gift any leased vehicles, property left to you only for your lifetime, or items subject to a hire purchase agreement.

Your Body

You cannot gift your body in your Will. However, the Human Tissues Act of 2004  allows you to leave your body or any part of it for therapeutic, educational, or research purposes, or anatomical examination.

Written and witnessed consent for anatomical examination must be given prior to death. Consent cannot be given by anyone else after your death. A consent form can be obtained from your local medical school and a copy should be kept with your Will. You should also inform your family, close friends, and GP that you wish to donate your body. 

Shares in a Company

In the articles of association or a shareholders’ agreement, some companies state that you cannot transfer your shares in the company before offering them to other shareholders. If this is the case, your shares may have to be sold and the money from the sale gifted instead of gifting the actual shares.

Gifts to Pets

Pets don’t have the capacity to own property and are not able to receive it if you leave it to them in your Will. Instead of gifting property or funds to a pet, you may gift your pet to someone you trust and leave that person funds to pay for your pet’s care.

Your Funeral Arrangements

Before your estate can be settled and property in your Will released to your loved ones, your will needs to go through probate. Since funeral arrangements happen soon after you die, if you leave your funeral wishes in your Will, your loved ones may not see them in time.

It’s No Secret That You Need a Will

To ensure your estate is taken care of promptly, a Will is the best course of action. Your loved ones will be able to handle your last wishes with ease when they are outlined clearly and tax preparations are accounted for.

Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors are at the ready with an experienced and considerate team to assist you with your estate planning needs. Contact us for more information about writing your Will, as well as your other legal needs for Probate, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Equity release, and Settlement agreements.

Categories
Will

How Do You Contest a Will?

30th August 2021

Dealing with the death of a family member, a close friend, or any loved one is never easy. The last thing you want to have to do is contest a Will. However, you may believe that your loved one’s Will doesn’t express their true feelings or may have been altered or created under duress. Perhaps you have evidence that the execution of the Will was invalid.

There are measures you can take to gain some clarity and even contest a Will if necessary. In this article, we will cover what the grounds are for contesting a will and how you can begin the process of doing so. 

What Are The Grounds For Contesting A Will?

There are typically two legal grounds for contesting a will:

  1. The Will is invalid.
  2. The Will fails to make adequate financial provision for a close family member (or someone who was financially dependent on the deceased).

The grounds for challenging a Will may include:

Forgery – A claimant can challenge the validity of a Will if they have legitimate evidence that the Will was tampered with or forged in any way. For example, if the signature on the Will is not the testator’s (A testator is a person whose Will it is). 

Improper Execution – For a Will to be valid, two witnesses must be present when the testator signs it.  If there is any evidence that suggests that there weren’t any witnesses present, the Will may be null and void due to undue execution. 

Mental Capacity – According to the law, the testator must be of “sound mind, understanding and memory” when composing their Will. The legal term for this is “testamentary capacity”. The individual should be aware of the nature of their property, how they want it to be distributed. To contest a Will on the grounds of lack of testamentary capacity, you’ll have to provide proof that the testator did not have capacity.

The First  Steps In Contesting A Will

Contesting a Will is a sensitive matter, but it’s vital to act quickly. You should consult an experienced legal professional as soon as possible to find out whether you have substantial evidence to make a claim. 

Once you get confirmation that you have valid legal grounds for contesting the Will, then you can file a “caveat” or a formal complaint at the Probate Registry Office. A “caveat” lasts for up to six months and can be renewed if necessary. By making a formal complaint, the probate process will cease, suspending the distribution of the deceased estate until the dispute is resolved.

Often, when you contest a Will, you can settle it through mediation. However, if the involved parties cannot reach an agreement, a formal court complaint or petition is then submitted to allow a judge to make the decision. Court costs can rack up rather quickly and take several months to resolve the dispute in court. Therefore, it’s best to try to negotiate an agreement outside the courtroom if possible. 

Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors Is Here to Help

Contesting a Will is a complex process requiring authentic evidence and assistance from a legal expert. It’s futile to take on such a fight by yourself. 

Contact us to schedule a consultation today.