Wills, Trusts and Probate

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The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has introduced a new digital service that allows consumers to apply for probate online. This is part of a billion-pound reform to modernise the justice system. You can use the new online service to enter the necessary information, sign a 'statement of truth' and make any required payment. However, at present, it can only be used in certain circumstances when the following criteria are met: You must have the death certificate; The deceased must have permanently lived in England & Wales, or if they...

Our fees for probate services in administering an uncontested estate are based on the hourly rate of the conducting fee earner, together with any disbursements.  Disbursements are expenses paid to third parties such as court fees, valuation fees, search fees and fees for statutory advertising. Every case is different so the final cost of our probate services will depend on the amount of time it takes to complete the administration of the estate.  This, in turn, is dependent upon a wide range of variable factors...

Solicitor Chris Green reports on a current High Court dispute that sheds some light on increasingly common estate protection schemes such as Home Protection Trusts that people are using to avoid liability for both Inheritance Tax and care home fees. Over recent years, many people have entered into what are usually known as Home Protection Trusts (or “HPTs”). It transfers ownership of their property out of their personal names and into the names of Trustees. this means that if they later need to go into...

The government has announced changes to probate fees in England and Wales from April 2019. What is probate? When someone dies owning assets, their executor will often need to apply to the Court for a grant of probate or, if the deceased did not leave a Will, a grant of letters of administration. The grant is a legal document which confirms that the executor or administrator has the authority to deal with the deceased person’s estate. How much is the current probate fee? Probate applications...

How to protect your children's inheritance It's natural for us to want to provide for our children after we have gone. Even if we haven't amassed a vast fortune that would qualify us for inclusion in The Sunday Times Rich List, most of us will still want our children to benefit from all our hard work. To ensure that our wishes are carried out the conscientious among us make a will specifying precisely how our assets are to be distributed on our death. However, even the...

People often confuse the terms “Mutual Will” and “Mirror Will”. However, in law they are two very different things and it is important to be precise. So what is the difference between a mirror will and a mutual will? A mirror will This is a will that simply “mirrors” another will. They are generally made by couples whose wills are very similar.  A common scenario is a wife leaving everything to her husband and the husband leaving everything to his wife. On the death of the survivor the...

Can a mistake in a will be corrected? There are legal steps available to correct a mistake in a will, but the options are limited. Here is a quick summary of the help that might be available if you find you have lost out as a result of a mistake in a will. A mistake in a will relating to 'knowledge and approval' You may be able to establish that the maker of the will did not 'know and approve' the contents of the will....

In the third of a series of articles about the circumstances when a new Will should be made, Solicitor Vanessa Swales looks at what effect the death of a witness or executor has on a Will. Who can witness a Will or be an executor? Any adult who has mental capacity and is not blind can witness your Will, as long as they are not a beneficiary, or married to a beneficiary. An executor, by contrast, can be a beneficiary, though they must be...

In the second of a series of articles about when a new Will needs to be made, Solicitor Vanessa Swales looks at what effect divorce has on a Will. Divorce doesn’t automatically revoke a Will Unlike marriage, divorce (or the dissolution of a civil partnership) does not automatically revoke your Will in its entirety. Following divorce your Will remains valid, but it takes effect as if your former spouse (or civil partner) had died on the date the decree absolute (or the dissolution...

In the first of a series of articles about when a new Will needs to be made, Solicitor Vanessa Swales looks at what effect marriage has on a Will. It is always good idea to review your Will from time to time. However, this is all the more important when your personal circumstances change as certain life events should always trigger a re-assessment of your estate planning. Getting married is one of those key events and with the royal wedding only...