Will Wills

What Are My Duties as an Executor Under a Will?

clients talking to a will executor

There’s no arguing that making preparations for one’s own passing is a challenging exercise. The importance of making these plans cannot be underplayed or understated – there aren’t many tasks that are more serious or more important to do right than ensuring someone’s final wishes are followed.

In this light, it’s easy to understand why the role of an Executor is vital as it’s the job to handle all the relevant legal tasks that come with a death.

What are those tasks?

Whether you are trying to pick Executors for your own Will or deciding whether or not to accept the role as someone else’s Executor, it’s important to be fully aware of the role’s responsibilities. This article will guide you through all the duties expected of an Executor.

Immediate Duties After the Death

Generally the first two things that an Executor must do are officially register the death and arrange for the funeral.

In England, registering a death must be done within 5 days and is done at the nearest registry office.

Settling the Finances of the Deceased

The exact details will vary from case to case but ascertaining the finances of the deceased will generally begin with a schedule of their assets and liabilities.  We advise that you make a comprehensive list of everything the deceased owned and owed. Valuations from professionals such as Estate Agents, Stockbrokers or Jewellers to obtain the values at the date of death might be required.

Inheritance Tax

If the value of the estate is over the tax threshold, inheritance tax will have to be paid.  The tax payable will vary from case to case.

Settling Debts

It’s an Executor’s responsibility to ensure that all of the deceased’s debts are paid before the remainder can be distributed to the beneficiaries.

Executors can be held personally liable if they distribute assets to beneficiaries without taking steps to locate and settle all relevant debts held by the deceased. This situation can be avoided by placing a Section 27 notice in the London Gazette and the local paper where the deceased lived and owned property. If no creditors come forward within two months, they have done their due diligence. They can distribute assets to beneficiaries incurring personal liability for debts that are brought to their attention after that date.

Grant of Probate

A grant of probate is a document which officially proves the validity of both the Will and the right of the Executor to handle the deceased’s estate. Some properties such as a deceased’s house, shares and ISAs require the Executor to apply for the Grant of Probate.


Lastly, given how much power an Executor has over an estate, transparency and accountability are critical. It is necessary to keep records of every transaction taken and to compile a complete set of accounts for the estate. 

Always Stay Informed so that you can Make the Right Choice

While we’ve covered some of the fundamental expectations and responsibilities of an Executor, every estate is different.  Some are simple and others complicated.

That’s where Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors comes in. We are able to help each step of the way when administering a person’s estate.

Don’t leave room for uncertainty and doubt when it comes to your final affairs. Contact us today to arrange a consultation.

Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors Inheritance Wills

Who Pays Inheritance Tax?

Will you pay inheritance tax on your estate?

The answer is, only if your estate is valued over the inheritance tax thresholds.

The current thresholds vary depending on the circumstances of an individual. For example, if you are single with an estate over £325K (the nil rate band), your estate will pay inheritance tax at 40% on any of your assets over that amount. 

Secondly, if you are cohabiting and you own your property as joint tenants, the survivor may have to pay 10% of any inheritance tax if this is due on the property.

If the deceased cohabitant owned the property as a tenant in common, (this means a divisible share), their estate will have to pay inheritance tax if the assets are over £325K if they do not have children and over £500,000 if they do.  That is because if you own a property and you leave it to your children, the government gives you an extra £175,000 tax free.  This is called the residential nil rate band.

If you are married with children, you can pass £1,000,000 to your children tax free.  This comprises of the tax free entitlement of £325,000 of the first one to die and the additional £175,000 which can be transferred to reduce the inheritance tax liability on the survivor’s estate on their death.  

Trust Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors for All Your Estate Planning Needs

Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors has assisted many clients with their estate planning needs for over a decade. Our team knows that you are likely visiting our offices at a difficult time in your life. That’s why we provide a relaxed environment where you can comfortably tell us about your needs with peace of mind knowing that you will receive sound, expert legal advice.  Many clients ask for ‘Solicitors near me’.  We are located at Winnersh Triangle, Wokingham, RG41 5TP.  We can also do home visits for Will instructions however there is a charge.

Contact us today so that we can help.


Why Having a Will Is Important at Any Age

probate service

We all hear how uncertain life can be — and that saying applies to both the extraordinary and devastating surprises that may come along. 

No one wants to think about life’s challenges or death, especially at a young age, but it is essential to think about what will happen when that day comes. 

A will is a legal document that primarily answers a very important question:

What will happen to your belongings if you die?

We never know when we might pass away. So, it’s important to plan ahead so your estate goes to people you have chosen. 

What Happens when you die?

If you do not make a will, your estate will be divided according to the law on intestacy. 

If you leave a will, it allows you to choose your executors who will distribute your belongings according to your wishes. 

 Do you have Children?

If you have children under 18 when you die, you need to appoint guardians to look after them if you and the other parent are not around. I advise that two guardians be appointed in case one is unable to act for any reason.

What Happens to Your Possessions?

Your children, parents, friends, or pets can also benefit from your will if you specify what you want. We try our best to be in control of our future, and it’s important to also have control over who will organize your estate, your assets, dependents, pets, accounts, and property.

Your Pets

  • Who will care for your pets? 
  • How will long-term care, such as pet food and veterinary care, be paid for? 

Your Belongings

  • Who will inherit your assets — bank accounts, property, vehicles, etc?
  • Who will inherit your belongings — furniture, clothes, etc?

No Friends or Family?

A will is important even if you don’t have direct beneficiaries. For example, if you have a favorite charitable organization, you can name that charity as your beneficiary. Inheritance Tax laws vary from country to country, but many taxes will generally be reduced if you leave 10% of your estate to a charitable cause, any inheritance tax that has to be paid is reduced from 40% to 36%.

Let Us Help

Making a will is not always the top of priorities when a person is thinking about school, travel, marriage — and all the wonderful things life has in store to offer. 

Knowing that the unexpected can happen are all good reasons to write a will when you are in sound mind.

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


Aren’t I Too Young To Write A Will?

life interest wills

When you’re young, thinking about death is probably not something you do very often. That’s understandable. You may think you’re too young to have a will, however it’s something all adults should have drafted for some very compelling reasons.

A will controls how your estate is handled and who benefits from it when you die. If you die without a will, the rules of intestacy apply. This means you cannot choose how your estate is divided because it must be distributed according to the law. Without a will, you give up all control as to how your estate is handled after your passing.

If that sounds undesirable to you, you’ll want to consider writing a will. We recommend that you have a will or review your existing will at significant moments in your life.

Let’s take a look at some of the scenarios in which it’s important to have a will and how not having one prepared can affect your loved ones:

1. You Have Children

The moment you have children, you must consider what would happen to them if you die during their childhood. Using your will to appoint a guardian to raise your children allows you to maintain some control over their care if you are no longer alive. The importance of this can’t be overlooked. If your wishes are not known, your children could find themselves in the middle of a disagreement between family and friends at a very trying time.

2. You Live With An Unmarried Partner

Common law marriage doesn’t exist in the UK, even if you have lived with your partner for years. If you die without writing a will, the intestacy rules would mean that your partner would receive nothing from your estate.

You also need to consider how you own your home. If you and your partner own your property as ‘joint tenants’, your partner would automatically own the home in their sole name if you were to die. However, if you two own the property as ‘tenants in common’, your share of the home would become part of your estate and would pass to your beneficiaries according to your will or the intestacy rules.

Your will can also include certain rights to enable your co-inhabitant to live in the home for a specified period of time. This will allow them to maintain their residence while ensuring that the asset still passes to your chosen beneficiaries.

3. You Have Pets

Pets are part of the family and you’ll want to to make sure they’ll be cared for if they outlive you. In your will, you can nominate someone you trust to take care of your pets.

You’ll want to find someone willing and able to take on this role. You can also choose to leave behind money to the nominated person so they won’t have to cover all of the related expenses out of pocket.

4. You Want To Give Someone Access To Your Digital Assets

Digital assets such as photos, social media accounts, music collections, email accounts, and more may not be physical possessions, but they can still hold a great deal of sentimental and monetary value. In your will, you can make specific provisions for these assets or select a particular person to handle them.

You’ll want to list out all your digital assets in your will so that the executor knows what they are. Without doing so, you risk the assets going unclaimed by anyone as people may not even realise they exist.

5. You Have Specific Provisions For A Relative Or Friend

Do you have any special items you wish to pass down to a particular person? It could be a family heirloom like a piece of jewelry you want your niece to inherit, or a comic book collection you want your friend to have. Writing your living will can help ensure these items go where you intend them to.

You can also use your will to  allocate a set sum of money from your estate. For example, maybe you want to leave £10,000 to your cousin.

6. You Want To Make Sure Someone Doesn’t Benefit From Your Estate

If you have separated from a partner but have not dissolved your marriage or civil partnership, under the law they will still inherit a considerable portion of your estate if you were to die. These rules are fixed and you can’t get around them. If you want to ensure that a previous partner doesn’t benefit from your estate, you need to have a will that clearly states this and provides who should benefit instead.

While your will could be contested, writing one helps establish your wishes and intentions in the event a claim is made.

7. You Have Funeral Wishes

Discussing your funeral may be an uncomfortable conversation you may not want to have. In your will, you can provide instructions regarding your funeral arrangements. For example you may have religious practices you want followed or perhaps you prefer to be cremated instead of buried.

Be aware that funeral wishes are not binding and executors are not required to follow them. However, setting out your preferences beforehand can help avoid family disagreements and make it easier for your loved ones to decide.


You are never too young to write a will. Making a will and keeping it up-to-date is the best way to make sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you die. Not having a living will can create some uncomfortable situations for your family and friends when the time comes. We know that thinking about your death can be unsettling. This is why Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors offers a friendly and approachable team to help you plan for the future with ease. Contact us today to learn more about our will writing services.


Making a Will

solicitors woodley

It’s easy to put off making a last will and testament. Yet when you sit and think about what happens to your money, property, and other assets, you’ll likely want to ensure they are distributed to certain important people in your life and don’t end up improperly divided or worse, property of the state. Without a will, you leave the matter open and your estate will surely not be dispensed as you wish. Why take that chance? Creating a will requires care and consideration, and with the right help from a solicitor can be a much simpler and more streamlined process.

Why Make a Will?

As stated, if you don’t create a will that spells out your desires for the distribution of your assets and possessions, the will may be distributed in a way that you have not approved and specified. Without a legally valid will, rules of intestacy come into effect when you die. The rules designate who can receive distributions from your estate, including married and civil partners and particular close relatives.

Unmarried partners that are not in a civil partnership can’t inherit under the rules of intestacy. This situation can cause disagreements and hurt feelings between your partner and other family members. Even without the partner involved, the loss of a loved one can be overshadowed by a fight over who is entitled to what, and the process usually ends up unfair to certain parties. A will resolves the issue by assigning money and property. While you can’t ensure that no one’s feelings are hurt after you’re gone, you can be assured that your wishes are followed to the letter and have been decided in advance to avoid further disagreement between your loved ones.

It’s important for every adult to make a will, but it’s especially critical if you have children, are a property or business owner, and / or have your own savings, insurance policies, property or investments. It inherently makes life simpler for your loved ones who are already grieving your loss. A will takes away some of the added pressure of sorting out the apportioning of your assets, a complicated and emotionally draining process during a time of grieving. Additionally, a living will can remove the burden of how to respond to medical decisions for you in the case that you are no longer able to speak for yourself.

In a will, you can further define other issues affecting life and the event of your death. Including a life interest trust Will helps you to protect a loved one’s ability to use your assets in a couple ways. It gives your identified party a life interest in your assets or property while they are alive. It allows the person identified in the trust to continue to live in their home or have access to certain assets, which are ring-fenced in this process. Through a life interest trust, considerations for long-term care of a spouse or child can be managed by disallowing the authorities to take all or a portion of your assets to pay for residential care home fees. An amount placed in the trust reserves it for the identified person to pass on to the next beneficiary at the time of death.

A similar scenario can occur when one remarries and has children from a previous marriage; a life interest trust will enables those children to receive the part of the inheritance that’s put in the trust.

How to Write a Will

The idea of writing a will is simple: determine all of your assets and debts to establish an estimated estate value, then decide how and to whom you want to divide your estate. It takes a bit of time to sort out what you want to do and to get it into the proper language, but this process is much easier and more understandable (not to mention ironclad) when choosing to go with a solicitor.

For your will, your estate value includes your home and any property you own, all savings accounts and bonds, insurance, pension funds with a lump sum death benefit, investments, vehicles, and personal items that have value. Subtract your debts such as mortgages, loans, credit card balances, and other money owed. The result represents your estate value.

Who do you want to benefit from your estate upon your passing? Most people have a spouse, partner, children, and other family members on their list of beneficiaries. Some people want a portion of their will to be donated to a designated charity. Specific items or amounts can be designated to named people, or money can be left to one person to divide among a group, for example, all the children in a family.

In your will, you will need to name an executor. It’s an important role that involves some work. How much depends on how large and complicated your estate is. Ask the person you’ll name if they’re willing to be your executor as some people are very willing to help while others don’t want the responsibility.

For legal reasons, you must sign and date your will in front of independent witnesses who must also sign and date it. Store it in a safe place such as a home safe, with your solicitor, or in a bank safety deposit box. Don’t attach any other papers to the will document. Notify your executor of your will location and make sure he or she will have access to it. You might want to make a duplicate; just know that these documents must be accounted for at all times.

Special Considerations

When you put a will together, review the current regulations regarding wills and trusts. You want to ensure that your loved ones, charities, and other designees receive assets according to your expressed wishes. You can write your own will, but there are multiple elements to it that must be written and signed appropriately. The same goes with professional will writers, nonprofit groups and banks that offer will writing assistance. If it’s not done correctly, the will may not be legally valid.

It’s best to consult an experienced solicitor, more specifically one that’s a specialist in wills and lasting power of attorney, to assist with your will. If you want a solicitor that emphasizes the care, respect and attention that clients deserve, contact Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors in Woodley, and rest assured that your family and your estate will be attended to properly.


Do I Need A Will?

wills and trusts

10 Compelling Reasons to Write A Will

The concept of preparing a will can seem daunting and let’s face it, nobody enjoys raising the subject of their eventual death among loved ones. For the procrastinators among us, it’s often overlooked as ‘something I must get around to doing when I have time’ and for many, that time never comes. You can read more about that scenario in our article titled ‘What is Probate?’.

Another common justification for avoiding the process is simply the assumption that it wouldn’t be a necessary thing to do for someone who doesn’t own high value assets.

At Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors, we specialise in will writing and helping our clients understand the importance of documenting even the most inexpensive assets which may have huge sentimental value to a loved one following their death.

In this article we share 10 compelling benefits of preparing a will as we aim to bust a few myths on the topic and demonstrate the importance of writing even the simplest of wills.

  • To ensure that on your death, your estate passes to beneficiaries of your choice and excludes you specify. This can include specific sentimental items that you’d live a nominated person to receive.
  • To save your heirs from considerable time, trouble and expense incurred as a result of you not having a will.
  • To make sure that your assets are passed to the partner you live with in the event that you’re not married or in a registered civil partnership. The law doesn’t automatically recognise partners who live together and without a will in place, your partner could be left with nothing.
  • To protect any children or dependents who may not be able to care from themselves. Without a will, there could be uncertainty about who will look after and provide for your children or dependants following your death.
  • To legally document any changes to your circumstances e.g. marriage, divorce, separation or children. Changes to your circumstances could make all or part of a previous will invalid or inadequate.
  • To help ensure that your heirs save significant amounts of inheritance tax and to understand how inheritance tax affects what you own.
  • To plan efficiently for tax purposes regarding any property you own outside of the UK.
  • To manage any tax and administration issues if you were born outside of the UK or if you have long term connections outside of England & Wales.
  • If You have assets that could be put into trust before your death. wills only take effect upon death and it may be appropriate for you to put assets into a trust during your lifetime as this could have significant tax benefits.
  • If you made a will without the help of a trusted expert, you may have made a mistake which may cause problems for your family or friends after your death.

If you have any questions about the necessity of preparing a will or updating an existing will in relation to your personal circumstances, please contact Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors based in Woodley for trusted advice and a professional and respectful service.

Tel: 0118 343 2737
Email: [email protected]