Wills, Estate Planning & Attorneyship
Newcastle, Durham, Sunderland, Northumberland & North East areas
WE CAN ASSIST CLIENTS WITH:
- Wills and estate planning
- Probate & administration of estates
- Advance directives
- Lasting powers of attorney and Court of Protection
- Inheritance tax planning
Dealing with a death is an extremely distressing and confusing time which brings up many important duties and decisions. In such instances, we can assist you in dealing with the deceased’s estate and financial matters.
We can also deal with estates when a person has not left a valid will and has died intestate.
If you seek to challenge a Will, we can also assist you with that.
Lasting powers of attorney
We can also assist in the planning of lasting powers of attorney to ensure that your financial and property decisions are taken care of. We can draft these documents for use at a later date, but you can also advise you on making an immediate registration with the Office of the Public Guardian.
We will always offer a fixed fee service and we can provide a quote over the phone and we commence our fees based on a straightforward estate where there is no inheritance tax to pay, no shares to be sold or transferred, no creditors to pay, no trust to be established and no dispute and the whole process should take no more than 12 hours work.
Where the assets in an estate are likely to be of a high value or the estate is more complex, we would have to meet with you to discuss matters and agree a fee.
Why Do I need a Will
A Will ensures your estate will pass to the people you want it to on your death. If you die without a valid Will, the law dictates who your estate will pass to. The Intestacy Rules are a set of rules which say how your estate should be distributed and this is overseen by a government body. The rules prioritise different classes of family members over others. The rules do not provide for cohabitees or friends.
We can draft a Will for you to ensure your wishes are carried out after your death and your estate and belongings pass to the people you wish.
“I am married so all my estate will pass to my spouse” – Not necessarily. The rules differ for people who have children to those who do not. Your spouse may not receive all of your assets or they have to share assets with your children.
This can cause issues if your children are from a previous relationship or if your main asset is the family home and your children do not want to wait for their share in your estate. Your spouse could end up having to sell their home.
“We are not married but we have lived together for more than two years so my partner will be treated as my common law spouse and will inherit my estate” – This is incorrect. The Intestacy Rules make no provision for unmarried partners. If you die intestate your partner will not be entitled to anything from your estate.
“We own our property jointly so my partner/spouse will get the house if I die” – This is not always the case and is dependent on decisions you made when you originally bought the property.
“I don’t have a spouse but I have children and my money will go to them” – This may be true but you will need to consider at what age your children will inherit your estate. If you do not make a Will, they will inherit at 18 years old. You may prefer your children to inherit when they are older and have more life experience.
If your children are young their money will need to be invested on their behalf until they are adults. Within your Will you can specify who should be their Trustees to manage their money.
“I am divorced so my money will go to my children and not my ex-spouse” – This may be the case however if your children are under the age of 18 and your ex-spouse is their Guardian then your ex-spouse will be able to control the money on behalf of your children.
“I do not have any family to leave my estate to” – All the more reason to make a Will. If you do not have any immediate family, your estate will pass to your distant relatives. If you do not have any family at all then your estate will pass to the Crown. With a Will you get to dictate who gets your estate upon your death. You may wish to leave money to a charity or to your old university, or to your old army unit, you will need a Will to do that.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a document which enables you to appoint one or more people to make decisions and act on your behalf.
There are two separate Lasting Powers of Attorney covering Financial and Property Affairs and Health and Welfare decisions.
If you do not make a Lasting Power of Attorney and you lose your mental capacity, a costly application will need to be made to the Court of Protection to enable family members or friends to deal with any assets in your sole name such as bank accounts and property.
“I am fit and well, I will make a Lasting Power of Attorney when I need one” – We do not know what the future has in store for us. Illnesses such as dementia can result in the rapid decline of a person’s mental capacity and they may not have enough time to make a Lasting Power of Attorney before they lose their capacity. Other health issues such as strokes can result in an immediate loss of mental capacity. If this is the case then access to bank accounts etc can prove impossible for family members.
“I am married, my spouse will be able to deal with my affairs” – For health and welfare decision, your next of kin will often be consulted. However, for property and Financial affairs, your spouse will not be able to deal with any assets in your sole name without a Lasting Power of Attorney in place. If you lost your mental capacity and had to go into care, your spouse would not be able to downsize your jointly owned property without someone being appointed to sign the documents on your behalf.
“I do not want someone meddling in my affairs whilst I can still manage” – Making a Lasting Power of Attorney does not mean you immediately surrender control of your own affairs. A Lasting Power of Attorney does not need to be used straightaway. We can store your Lasting Power of Attorney here until such times as it may need to be used in the future.
Lasting Powers of Attorney are not only for people who have lost their mental capacity but can also be used for people who are unable to leave the house for example due to a physical disability or a fall.