Planning for your future is important. Taking simple steps now can ensure that your loved ones are provided for after you are gone. You can ensure not only that your wishes are respected, but that you leave more behind by taking steps to reduce your tax liability.
Planning for the future with FisherWright
Writing a will is simple, straightforward and brings us peace of mind – yet surprisingly few people put in place a valid will.
A will is a document which lays out the final wishes of a deceased person. It sets out who is to inherit what (subject to the law of succession). For a will to be valid it must be written by a person over 12 years of age, it must be witnessed and signed by the witnesses on each page, and it must be written down. If even one of these criteria is not met, your will may not be regarded as valid – this may mean your loved ones will not inherit in the way you intend.
You can alter a will as often as you like. Additions to a will are known as ‘codicils’. These allow you to add to the will without having to draft a new one from scratch. Codicils are often used to, for instance, include a family member who was not born at the time the original will was drafted.
If you die without a will, you are said to die ‘intestate’. The law lays down rules on how your estate is to be divided in such an instance. This will rarely be in accordance with your wishes. If you would like to discuss writing a will, contact our solicitors today.
Estates and Probate Lawyers Ealing, London
The death of a loved one is a hard enough time without having to deal with the formalities of bringing their estate to an end. FisherWright’s expert probate solicitors have the expertise to guide you through this difficult time.
The first step is to apply for probate. This application is made at the court local to the area in which the deceased last lived. Without probate, the executor does not have the authority to wind up the estate. Probate is necessary to liquidate assets, to close bank accounts, to settle bills and to take the steps necessary to bring the deceased’s affairs to an end.
This can be a daunting process, and as such you should seek legal advice. Taking the right advice from experienced probate solicitors can make the entire process of winding up an estate so much quicker and easier.
Valuing an estate
FisherWright can help you value the deceased’s estate. This involves contacting all of the institutions with whom the deceased transacted (banks, building societies, credit card companies, mortgage lenders etc.) to ascertain exactly how much the estate is worth. Once an estate is valued, the next step is to ‘ingather’ the estate. This is the process of liquidating the deceased’s assets (closing bank accounts and withdrawing funds, cashing in insurance policies, selling property etc.).
Once the estate is valued and ingathered, the process of distributing legacies to beneficiaries can begin.
Inheritance Tax Solicitors Ealing, London
On many estates, inheritance tax (IHT) is payable. IHT is payable on estates which total over £325,000. Properly organising your affairs can reduce the total amount of IHT payable out of your estate on death. Normally the executor pays IHT out of the deceased’s estate, although on occasion the IHT bill can exceed the amount of liquid capital in the estate. In such cases, the usual process is for the probate solicitor to arrange an IHT overdraft. Some gifts and legacies are exempt from IHT and these are as follows:
- Gifts and legacies made to your spouse or civil partner.
- Gifts made to charities, whether during life or in your will.
- Gifts which you make seven years or more before your death.
- Gifts which fall under the annual exemption. This allowance can be rolled over into the next year.
Preparing in advance can greatly reduce the tax payable on your estate, and increase the amount which goes to your loved ones.
Trusts Lawyers Ealing, London
A trust is a means of holding assets for the benefit of another person or group of people. Assets placed in trust are held or managed by appointed individuals – ‘trustees’ – for the benefit of ‘beneficiaries’. The trustees are responsible for ensuring that the trust purposes are complied with, as well as the wishes of the person creating the trust.
Setting up a trust allows assets to be protected from tax liability or from creditors, or to allow funds or investments to be held on behalf of someone who is too young to manage their own affairs. In this latter case, conditions can be imposed on the trust with which the trustee must comply before they can benefit. Trusts can also be used to hold land and buildings in order to generate income.
If you are thinking of setting up a trust, FisherWright can advise on the legalities and can act as trustees. A trustee may be an individual person, or a company. Trustees are responsible for dealing with the trust’s assets, managing the trusts in the interests of the beneficiary and ensuring that the trust purposes are complied with.
Wills & Probate Ealing, London
We offer an honest, friendly, reliable service with strong links to the local community. We provide expert legal advice on wills, trusts and probate to our clients. To talk through your situation with the team at FisherWright, contact us on 0208 719 0101 or fill out online enquiry form here.