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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.

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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.

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Will

I Got Divorced. Should I Change My Will?

senior man

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.

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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.

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Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors

What Are The Different Types Of Will?

male lawyer

30th June 2021

If the world going through a pandemic taught us anything, it is that tomorrow is never assured. No matter who we are or where we come from, we all want our legacy to be passed down, regardless of how big or small. 

A Will lets you decide what happens to your finances, property and possessions when you pass and gives you the peace of mind that those decisions are respected and adhered to.

Talking about death is still a taboo subject for many, but knowing how to draft a Will and making sure it is validis critically important regardless of how uncomfortable it may be to consider our own mortality. 

Choosing a solicitor and ensuring your Will is drafted by an expert is an important way you can guarantee your family, spouse and  even pets are looked after when you pass away.. 

This article will help you understand the most common types of Wills and how each works, so when it’s time for you to write one, you have the confidence and understanding that you are handling your estate properly.

Types Of Wills

Single Will

A single Will, aptly named, is the most common, as it is suitable for any person that wants to outline their wishes and how they want their assets distributed when they pass away. Single Wills are generally for those who have uncomplicated circumstances and estates.  

They can be used by single or divorced individuals.  Single Wills are also useful if you are married and have children from a previous relationship because this will help divide your estate between your current family, your children from both relationships and your former spouse.  A trust may be needed if there are special circumstances to consider for your children/family, more details below. .

Will trusts

There are many different types of Will trusts and they can be made for many different reasons. A trust can be made to benefit a child,  spouse or a person with special needs. 

Will trusts should be considered if you have children from a different marriage and you have remarried or are cohabiting with a new partner. 

Will trusts are not always straightforward but offer protections that other types of Wills do not. You may not know if a Will trust is the right type of Will for you so it is important to take legal advice from an experienced solicitor who can help with all the options. 

Mirror  Wills

Mirror  Wills  are normally used by married couples.  They usually appoint each other as Executors and give each other their estates and name their children if they have any as common beneficiaries.  Mirror Wills are normally straightforward, but you should always seek legal advice to ensure you consider all the options to protect your family when you pass.  

Regardless of which option is best for your needs, it is important that you create a legally binding Will for the sake of your loved ones and your peace of mind. 

Drafting a Will all on your own can be difficult which is why it is always recommended that you consult a solicitor to ensure that it reflects your current circumstances. 

Need help writing your Will?

Visiting a solicitor to draft a Will should be an easy and warm experience. At Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors, you can be assured to get that kind of treatment as soon as you walk through the door. Your wishes will be listened to as we give our expert advice during your time with us.

Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors are at the ready with an experienced legal team ready to assist you. 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.

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Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors

At What Point In My Life Should I Write A Will?

At What Point In My Life Should I Write A Will

10th June 2021

A Will helps you divide your estate and other assets amongst whoever you choose when you pass away. There are a few factors you will want to consider when instructing a STEP qualified Solicitor to draft a Will. 

In this article, we will go over some of the details that will help you better understand when to do so. It is an important step in anyone’s life when they choose to plan for their estate and their family’s future — and ensuring that it is done when one is still mentally capable is critical.

Requirements For Making A Will

In order for your Will to be valid, you must make sure it meets the following criteria:

  • The person who is writing the Will must be at least 18 years old.
  • The Will instructions must be given without any pressure by anyone else.
  • You need to be of sound mind, which means that you must understand that you are making a Will and  that it will take effect on your death 
  • Your Will must be signed by the person making the will and two witnesses.
  • The two witnesses must also sign the Will in the presence of the person drafting the Will after that person has signed it.
  • As soon as the Will is signed and witnessed, it is valid.

Importance Of Having A Will

A Will isn’t just so you can divide up your material wealth when you die  —  it’s a way for you to have the peace of mind that your wishes are carried out on your death. No matter your age, unexpected and unfortunate events can occur, and having a Will can save you and your family time, stress and struggle in an already difficult time. 

Young people commonly believe they don’t need a Will because they are too young and have few possessions, however, what determines whether a person requires a Will is whether they have property or their particular family circumstances. 

Major life events should always trigger a new Will or an Update

A Will is especially important for those with considerable wealth or assets, those who are recently married or divorced, have had their own children or gained stepchildren, or any combination of major life events. For example if you have remarried, unless you change your Will in favour of your new spouse, your previous spouse could be the main beneficiary.

If you die without a Will, which is known as dying ‘intestate’,  your assets become much more difficult to distribute which may lead to family disputes.

Other important ways a Will can help 

Here is a list of some of the other ways a Will can be used to reflect your wishes and protect your loved ones in the event of your passing:

  • Funeral arrangements: some may think it morbid to think about this before old age, but injury and death can unfortunately happen anytime. Saving your family the need to argue what you “would have wanted” is something very important that a Will can specify for you. Specifics like whether you would prefer to be buried or cremated are important choices and are best clarified in writing.
  • If you have children, you are able to name their guardian in case anything happens to you if they are under 18 years old. This allows you to choose the best option for their wellbeing and care, rather than leaving it to chance or the state who might put them into care.
  • If you have a partner but are unmarried, keep in mind they are not entitled to anything from your estate unless you specifically state it in your Will. Writing a Will ensures your partner  receives what you wish them to have on your death.
  • Whatever you leave to your spouse or civil partner will be exempt from inheritance tax. The amount of inheritance tax that is charged to your estate depends on the size of your estate. Writing a Will allows you to get advice so that you can find out whether inheritance tax is an issue that you need to address.
  • You can name an Executor (or more than one if you would like) who will be in charge of carrying out your wishes after you pass. Choosing an Executor ahead of time makes sure you have a dedicated party that will handle the affairs of your estate when you pass.. 

Many more factors go into creating a Will. There is no definitive age to start drafting your Will, but having one in place when you are young — and updating it when major life events happen — helps ensure that you are securing your estate and that your loved ones will be cared for according to your wishes once you pass.

Ensure Your Future With Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors

Visiting a solicitor, no matter what age, should be an easy and welcoming experience. At Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors, you can be assured to get that kind of treatment as soon as you walk through the door. Your wishes will be listened to as we give our expert advice during your visit.

Visit us online and book a meeting using our easy-to-use appointment calendar system. We offer many appointment times for your busy schedule. For empathy, understanding, professionalism and the expert care you are looking for, contact Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors today.

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How Does Tax Planning Come Into Effect When Writing a Will?

How Does Tax Planning Come Into Effect When Writing a Will

20th May 2021

Are you considering writing a Will? Do you have children and want to ensure their care?  Do you have a business or assets that you wish to retain control of? We all want to leave our affairs in order so that our loved ones do not struggle to administer our estates while they are grieving. 

The concern is often where to begin when you decide to have a Will drafted for you.  What tax considerations there are? Who oversees the assets, receives them, pays taxes if the estate is taxable and distributes your estate?

If you die without a Will, your loved ones will not know your wishes. If your wishes are written down in a generic document, they can be disputed which could escalate to legal action. Family relationships may suffer as your loved ones are left trying to interpret what your intentions were. 

What Is A Will?

A Will is a legal document which gives away a person’s estate after they pass away. To legally create a Will, you must be 18 years of age. It states who will benefit from your estate when creating a Will, it is essential to recognise that one’s spouse does not automatically inherit everything.  In addition, unmarried partners are not legally recognised although they have a claim against the estate of the loved one that has died. 

Your Will needs to be protected and safely stored. Only the original Will is a legal document. A copy can be admitted by the Probate Registry but you have to follow certain rules which makes it complicated and expensive.

Components Of A Will

When you are ready to give instructions for your Will to be drafted, it is essential that you  understand the different elements that will make up the Will. Here are the four main features.

1. Executor

You will appoint an executor who will administer your estate when you pass away.

2. Beneficiaries

You choose who will benefit from your Will.   Your Will must identify who receives which assets as well as the method of distribution.  They can be outright or through a trust. 

3. Witness

Legally the final document needs to be witnessed by two people who are not the  beneficiaries. If a beneficiary is a witness, their gift under your Will will fail.

4. Updates

Do not make any amendments on the face of the Will because they will not be accepted by the Probate Registry.  Make an appointment with your Solicitor and let them know what changes you would like made. They will produce a new Will for you to sign and make sure that it is valid.

Tax Planning When Writing A Will

When writing a Will, it is essential to see a Solicitor so that they can advise you whether your estate will be subject to inheritance tax.  

Gifts

Gifts given to your beneficiaries can be exempt from inheritance tax if you survive the gift by 7 years. Special 14 year rules apply in certain circumstances. Contact us for more information. 

Exemptions

Consulting with a tax consultant will ensure that you obtain the best advice as to what exemptions are available to you.

Trusts

Establishing a trust when writing your Will can save potential taxes that may be due to the estate. With a trust, ownership transfer occurs while still retaining some level of control. Trusts are a great way to leave assets to children and grandchildren. 

Life Insurance and Pensions

Considerations when making a Will are life insurance and pensions.  Speak to your pension Advisor or Financial Advisor so that they make sure that you have nominated beneficiaries who will benefit so that they pass outside your estate. 

Charity

Donations to legitimate charities help to reduce the tax burden to your beneficiaries because they are exempt. 

What Is Inheritance Tax?

Inheritance taxes are paid if a person’s estate is over the threshold.

When writing a Will, you also need to consider the tax consequences of your estate at the date of your death.

The tax deadline in the UK is six months after the end of the month when the person died.

How To Plan For Inheritance Tax

Potential exemptions can occur for gifts in the previous seven years before a person dies. Different periods may require a calculation based on a sliding scale. 

Legal consultation can help determine if inheritance tax, capital gains taxes, or other taxes are due. Additionally, seek professional guidance on life insurance and pension funds. Donating to charity is free from inheritance tax in the UK as well as many other areas. 

Creating a Trust can help reduce or eliminate the burden of inheritance tax. The amount of tax due could be a fraction of the tax burden without a trust. 

It’s No Secret That You Need a Will

To ensure your estate is taken care of promptly, a Will or 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 excellent staff to assist you with your estate planning needs.  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.

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Appointing a Guardian for Your Children: What You Should Know

Appointing a Guardian for Your Children What You Should Know

10th April 2021

If you have children, it’s important to appoint guardians in your Will. s

Our children are our top priority. We want to make sure they are cared for if something happens to us.. Who will act in their best interests? If your children are under 18, it’s imperative that you have a Will appointing a guardian to look after them.. 

You will need to consider who your children’s guardians will be and if they are able to care for your children. 

You also need to consider who would look after your children and make decisions on your behalf if you lose capacity, especially if you are the only parent with parental responsibility.

What Is A Legal Guardian?

A guardian is someone who has legal responsibility for your children. They have all the rights, duties, powers, and authority that a parent has. 

If both parents are alive and they have parental responsibility, if one loses capacity the other will continue to look after the children.  If both parents, for example, were to lose  capacity in the same accident, who would look after the children?  The Local Authority would assess the situation.  They may approach the family if they are in England and Wales to see whether they can look after the children.

It is better to appoint a guardian in your Lasting Powers of Attorney so that your children can be looked after if you are alive but incapacited.   

If, unfortunately, both parents were to pass away, it is also vital to have appointed guardians in both your Wills.  

What Does A Guardian Do?

Essentially, a guardian is responsible for caring for your child until the age of 18. The guardian is responsible for the children’s health, wellbeing and education. 

How Do You Choose A Legal Guardian?

Considering legal guardians is a significant decision as a parent. It requires balancing both emotional and rational choices. So how do you make the decision? 

Ideally, you should select guardians with similar values to yourself and your partner. 

Things to consider when choosing your children’s legal guardian:

  • What is the environment in their home? Is it stable? 
  • Are they currently involved in your children’s lives, or does the relationship need to be built? 
  • Do your children have special needs, and if so, does the potential guardian have experience or a fundamental understanding of what will be involved in the children’s care? 
  • Does the potential guardian want to care for your children long-term?
  • Where does the guardian live? Will the children need to be uprooted from their schools? 
  • Do the guardians have children of their own, or have they had experience raising children? Will your children and theirs get along?
  • Are they mentally capable of caring for your children?
  • Are they over 18?
  • If you are considering appointing your parents, are they in good enough health?

These are tough questions to ask but they are crucial in determining who would be the most appropriate guardian for your children. 

How Do You Appoint A Guardian In Your Lasting Power of Attorney and Your Will?

You will need a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney to appoint a guardian if you lose capacity during your lifetime.

You need a Will to appoint guardians for your children if you die. It is also a good idea to appoint alternatives in the event something unforeseen happens to your first choice.  It is crucial to review your Lasting Powers of Attorney and your Wills every three to five years to make sure your choices are still appropriate.. 

Sometimes, parents choose a couple to be guardians of the children, but legally they can choose up to four in England and Wales. 

What If You Don’t Appoint A Guardian?

If you lose capacity the Local Authority will step in to help your children.  Unfortunately, they may go into care while they assess the suitability of the family or friends that express an interest in looking after your children.

If you don’t appoint a guardian before you die, the courts will make decisions regarding the welfare of your children. 

If there is no surviving parent with parental responsibility, the interested relative will have to make an application to the  Court to be appointed as  a guardian.  Social services need to evaluate potential options and provide their findings to the Court. Considering guardian options can be a lengthy process.  In the meantime, the children might be put in care while waiting for a final decision from the Court.

Who Can Choose A Guardian?

In England and Wales, a person who has parental responsibility can appoint a guardian. The mother automatically has parental responsibility unless the Court has decided otherwise.

The father can obtain parental responsibility through the following ways:

  • Marrying the mother
  • Registered as the father on the birth certificate if the child was born after 12/1/2003
  • He and the mother file a parental responsibility agreement with the High Court in England and Wales
  • A Court Order gives him parental responsibility
  • He is appointed as the child’s guardian in the mother’s Will.
  • Adoption

We Can Help You Draft Lasting Powers of Attorney and a Will to Effectively Appoint Guardians For Your Children

To give you peace of mind, let us help protect your children while they are young.

Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors can help you create your will. Don’t wait — contact us today to get started.

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How to Talk to Your Family About What’s in Your Will

How to Talk to Your Family About What’s in Your Will

30th March 2021

Conversations relating to Wills are often pushed to the side in favour of more uplifting and positive ones. No one wants to talk about what happens when they die.  Ensuring your family is prepared for your death is essential if you want to make sure your wishes are met. 

So, how do you talk to your family about what’s in your Will?

It may be  difficult for you to find the words to articulate how you want your wishes to be carried out. But to make sure that your family is prepared to hear your thoughts, you need a Will stating who will look after your estate and benefit from it as well. 

Preparing for these difficult conversations can be intensely challenging.  We are here to help. Here are some tips when approaching your family and loved ones to discuss what will be in your Will 

Why It Is Important to Talk About Your Will

Death is traumatic and ignoring the conversation now may leave your loved ones with a more complicated situation to deal with. 

It is much better to ensure that your loved ones know your wishes before you die.  This stops any arguments or ambiguity as to what your wishes were. 

Your Will Is Not Just About Money 

Contrary to popular belief, a Will contains more than just your wishes for what happens to your money and assets when you pass away.   It can make provision for family heirlooms or items of sentimental value to family and special friends which can’t happen without a Will.

A well drafted Will can protect your assets so that your children get at least half of your property if you’re married in the event that the surviving spouse requires care.

It may also protect a vulnerable beneficiary so their gift does not affect his receipt of benefits.  

Making Preparations

Before going into this conversation with your loved ones, (if you want to discuss it with them) you should be prepared. It’s encouraged to have notes prepared on the rough topics you want to address- do you want your funds to go to a charity, or do you want them to go to your grandchildren’s education? Establish the answers to these questions and more before opening this conversation with your family. 

Bringing Up Finances

Conversations about your finances are never easy, especially when you’re talking about your finances after you pass.  It is helpful to think about who has the legal responsibility for carrying out your instructions.  Choose someone you trust.

Do you only want to leave money to your children or do you want to leave aside money for future grandchildren you haven’t met yet? These are some of the points you might want to think about before instructing a Solicitor to draft your Will.

You should also consider important password information and how the executors of your will would access your finances if you are no longer around. For example, if you have cryptocurrency, your family will need access to your login information in order to administer your Estate

Changes to Your Will

Updating your Will  is essential to keep up with your changing circumstances.  The law changes as well from time to time therefore your Will should be reviewed to make sure that it is up to date.

Now is the Time to Write Your Will

Once you have decided what you would like in your Will such as who you would like to benefit the it is time to instruct us. . Our experienced lawyers at Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors know and understand the importance of having a Will and how to ring fence your estate against care fees so that your children get at least half of your estate.

Our modern office in Winnersh Triangle has facilities second to none.  We will look after you, make you a coffee or tea to make sure you are comfortable before taking your instructions.  We can also meet you at your own home (COVID rules permitting). Contact us today so that we can help have the right Will for your estate.

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Will

What Should I Do if I Have Been Named the Executor of a Will?

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20th March 2021

If you’ve been named the Executor of a Will, you are likely facing a new experience that you feel unprepared for. 

The Executor is responsible for paying off any debts or liabilities the deceased had accumulated and is responsible for distributing assets from the estate to the beneficiaries under the Will. You might be wondering what you should do if you’ve been named the executor of a Will, and it’s understandable if you’re a bit worried about it.

Proving a Will (obtaining the grant of probate for a person who has died leaving a Will) is highly challenging, especially if you’ve never been responsible for something like this before. You may feel overwhelmed trying to balance all of the tasks expected of you as the Executor, and you might not know where to start. However, lack of experience doesn’t mean that it will be very difficult for you to fulfill your role. 

It’s common to worry about whether or not you will follow the deceased’s wishes properly, but with a few steps, you can ease that anxiety and take on the challenge with a clear direction. 

We’ve put together this article to help you identify what challenges you may face as an Executor of a Will and how to approach every one of them. Here are a few things you should do if you’ve been named Executor.

What is an Executor? 

An Executor is somebody named in the Will who has the responsibilities of handling property, money, possessions and debts of a person who has passed away. While it might sound simple, the Executor is responsible for finding out the assets, paying any debts and distributing whatever remains according to the wishes of the dearly departed. 

In most cases, the Executor is a relative or close friend of the deceased, which means that they are usually also mourning a loss while handling the emotional and physical responsibilities that the Executorship position entails. 

Sometimes, a professional is appointed as Executor, such as a solicitor. Usually, this is done in cases where a person has complicated affairs and there is a need to have an expert involved very early in the administration of the estate. 

Hiring a professional is also sometimes used in situations where there is potential conflict  within the family. The professional could save the family the potential for disputes to arise as to how the estate should be administered.  This in turn would save the estate money because there wouldn’t be the need to go to court unnecessarily. 

Suppose a family decides that a professional who the deceased previously hired is not needed,  in that case, the professional can be asked to renounce to allow the family to administer the estate   themselves. 

What to Do if You Don’t Want To Be An Executor 

Legally you are not forced to take on the responsibility of an Executorship. Maybe you don’t have time,  you’re facing a health crisis or your emotional state is simply too extreme. In these cases, you can sign what is called a Deed of Renunciation. Here in England and Wales, this cancels your status as an Executor and allows the other named Executors to administer the estate of the dearly departed. 

If there are no other named Executors in the Will, the beneficiaries entitled to the estate can apply for Letters of Administration with the Will attached.

Renouncing your role as Executor should be done as soon as physically possible before you’re involved in the process of handling the deceased’s estate. Things can get complicated quickly if you’ve already been engaged and then wish to back out. 

Your First Step After Being Named the Executor of a Will 

If you’ve decided to continue serving as the Executor of a Will, the first thing you should do is understand what responsibilities you will have with this position. 

Some of these are:

  • Identify all assets of the estate and value them
  • Identify any debts and liabilities
  • Complete inheritance tax forms
  • Apply for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration 
  • Pay for funeral costs
  • Pay off debts 
  • Distribute the estate according to the deceased’s wishes. 
  • Draft estate accounts to show all the monies that were received, any debts and liabilities paid together with the distributions to the beneficiaries

Those in charge of an estate may  also be responsible for acting as Trustees for children under 18, if any or if a Trust arises as a result of the Will. For example, if the deceased left a child a large sum of money, the Trustee is responsible for protecting and ensuring that the money grows until the child is 18.

The executor is responsible, in short, for collecting, valuing, paying off and distributing all assets of the deceased. You may need to contact external companies for situations such as valuing property or tracking down all potential debts a person had. 

What If Something Goes Wrong? 

You can be personally liable if there are losses to the beneficiaries or creditors. If you could have reasonably avoided a late fee on a debt, for example, you would be responsible for the cost of late payment. 

Executors are always advised to place Section 27 adverts in the National Gazette and in the local paper to notify any potential unknown beneficiaries or creditors. This protects them from any liability in this respect.

Let Us Help 

At Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors, we can help you navigate your new position as Executor of a loved one’s estate.  Our probate services can help you finalise the affairs of someone who has recently passed and help take some of the pressure off your shoulders as the executor of the will. 

We know how vital kind and sympathetic services are for you as you’re struggling with the loss of a loved one, and our team is prepared to help you every step of the way. 

Reach out to us and let’s talk. Let us help you ease some of the burdens that come with a loved one’s passing.