Read the latest articles on Family Law from our expert Family Law solicitors here at Evolve Family Law in Manchester & Cheshire.

We put a lot of family law legal information on our website and if you have a single question about your situation, you should find an answer in this blog.

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Do You Need a Will if You Are Married?

Do You Need a Will if You Are Married?

Will solicitor, Chris Strogen, is emphatic that you do need a Will if you are married.  In this blog, we explain why you need a Will if you are married and how our Will solicitors at Evolve Family Law can write your Will or advice on whether an existing Will needs changing.  For expert Will and estate planning advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.   Why do you need a Will if you are married?  Whether you are married or not, if you die without a Will then your assets (called your estate) pass under statutory intestacy rules. Who gets your money and estate depends on whether you are married or in a civil partnership and whether you have children or other extended family.  The intestacy rules are inflexible and they may not reflect your wishes or be tax-efficient. Without a Will, it can be more difficult to administer your estate, especially if you own complicated assets. For example, you are a shareholder in a family business or you are self-employed as a sole trader or own a buy to let property portfolio.  In addition, if the intestacy rules do not meet your family circumstances a qualifying relative may want to challenge the estate distribution and make a claim against the estate. They can do this by alleging that the intestacy rules do not make reasonable financial provision for them.  The intestacy rules if you die without a Will and you are married  The intestacy rules if you die without a Will and you are married depend on whether you have children.   Step-children do not count as your children for this purpose as they are not biologically related to you. That’s the case even if you have always been very close to your step children. Your children from any previous relationships do count even if they are estranged from you or if at the date you pass away, they are financially independent with their own homes and families. Children includes adopted children and the descendants of your biological or adopted children.  If you do not have children your husband, wife or civil partner will inherit your entire estate.   If you do have children your husband, wife or civil partner will inherit:  The first £322,000 of your estate  All your personal possessions  Half the rest of the estate. The remaining half is divided equally between your children   The intestacy rules say that if a child has died before their parent, then the grandchild or the great grandchild of the deceased inherits in their parent’s place.  As the intestacy rules are inflexible an estate claim could be brought. For example, your husband or wife may say that they need more than £322,000 and half the rest of the estate to meet their needs. Alternatively, if you jointly own a family home with your spouse as joint tenants, your surviving husband or wife will end up owning the family home as well as getting the first £322,000 of your estate and half the remainder of the estate. Depending on the size of your estate, that may not leave much for your children to inherit.  [related_posts] Why writing a Will is a good idea whether you are married or not  Having a Will in place is always a good idea, whatever your personal circumstances.  With a Will you can:  Decide who should administer your estate and distribute the monies. The named people are called your executors. They can be family members, friends, a Will solicitor or a combination. You need at least 2 people to act as your executors  Appoint a testamentary guardian for your children. This is important if you have children under the age of 18  Make gifts of specific assets to people, such as items of jewellery or sentimental family heirlooms  Ensure that your estate is distributed tax efficiently so the estate pays less in inheritance tax. This should mean there is more money left for your beneficiaries  Leave money to a charity of your choice  Say what your preferences are about funeral arrangements  Place money in a trust. This can be helpful where, for example, you have been married previously and have children from different relationships. You may want your current spouse to be able to stay at the family home and have enough to live very comfortably but you may want your estate left in trust so that on your spouse’s death your remaining estate passes to your other trust beneficiaries, such as your children. If money is left outright to your spouse in your Will or under intestacy rules, then on the death of your spouse your monies will form part of their estate and be distributed in accordance with their Will or under intestacy rules. If your spouse remarries then the monies inherited from you may pass to their new husband or wife rather than to your children or grandchildren or to your preferred charity  There are many other reasons why talking to a Will solicitor is a good idea. For example:  To understand what assets form part of your estate. If the family home is owned as joint tenants, it passes straight to the surviving owner and not by your Will. If the house is owned as tenants in common your share of the property passes by your Will or under the intestacy rules. Other assets, such as a pension or life insurance, may not pass by your Will but by nominations. It all depends on how the policy is written  It may be tax efficient to make lifetime gifts as part of your estate planning and IHT strategy  You may want to put in place a Lasting Power of Attorney for yourself and your spouse  You may want to check if your former spouse has a potential claim against your estate and discuss what you can do to protect your current husband or wife or your children from such an estate claim   For expert Will and estate planning advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.
Chris Strogen
Jan 10, 2024   ·   6 minute read
What Does Intestacy Mean

What Does Intestacy Mean

Intestacy or dying intestate means a person has passed away without a valid Will. The person’s estate is therefore distributed under the intestacy rules.  In this article, Will and probate solicitor, Chris Strogen, looks at what intestacy might mean for you or your family.  If you need help with making a Will or with probate and estate administration call our team or complete our online enquiry form.   Passing away without a Will   If you die without a Will your family will not have the guidance you could have given in a Will. A Will does not just say who should inherit your estate. A Will can also:  1. Appoint executors to administer your estate In a Will, you can choose the best person for the job of executor. That might be your husband or wife, a friend, an adult child, your Will solicitor or a combination of these people. You may know that asking your spouse and your children to work together as executors will not work in your family circumstances and in your Will you can appoint your executors with care  2.Set out when your chosen beneficiaries will inherit You may not want your children to come into their inheritance until they are 21, 25 or 30 so they are a bit more mature when they receive a life changing amount of money  3.Protect your minor children by appointing a testamentary guardian in your Will   4.Ringfence assets in a trust so your trustees can distribute the income or capital in your estate to the discretionary trust beneficiaries after considering their circumstances and making distributions in a tax-efficient manner. A trust can be very helpful in a blended family or where there are concerns that if a gift is left outright to a family member it will be wasted or end up being used to fund the beneficiary’s divorce settlement   5.Make small bequests so friends or grandchildren are not forgotten as they are left an item of sentimental value or a gift of money  A Will is a very powerful document as it sets out the testator’s wishes. All of us should have a Will to protect our loved ones. That is particularly important if your estate would not pass following your preferences under the intestacy rules. For example, a much-loved unmarried partner of 20 years inherits nothing under the intestacy rules. For example, depending on the size of your estate, a spouse you married 6 months before your death may inherit everything leaving nothing to your 4 children from your first marriage.  The rules of intestacy explained  If there is no Will your estate passes under the rules of intestacy. There is no discretion – the rules apply whether or not they are what you would have wanted to happen to your estate.  As the intestacy rules are rigid, they can create family upset. For example, if your cohabitee will not receive anything or if the family heirloom you verbally promised to your grandson is inherited by your new spouse.  The intestacy rules say:   If the person who died was married or in a civil partnership and had no children, all their estate goes to their husband, wife or civil partner  If the person who died was married or in a civil relationship and has children, the first £322,000 of their estate goes to their spouse or civil partner, together with all the deceased’s personal possessions. If the estate is worth more than  £322,000 then the spouse or civil partner gets half the balance and the deceased’s children split the remaining half between them  If the person who died was not married or in a civil partnership, but has children, the estate goes to the children. If there are no biological or adopted children, the estate goes to the parents and the intestacy rules continue with a list of more distant relatives in order of preference. [related_posts] If the intestacy rules create unfairness  If the intestacy rules create unfairness, then there is the potential to sort things out by the beneficiaries under the intestacy rules agreeing to forgo their inheritance or share their inheritance. That does not always happen as an unmarried partner of 20 years may not get on with the deceased’s adult child from a previous relationship or with the deceased’s parents so the family is unable to negotiate a compromise on how to share the estate.    If the family cannot sort out the difficulties created by the lack of Will and the intestacy rules then a disappointed unmarried partner or other relative could make a court application to claim a share of the estate because the intestacy rules did not make reasonable financial provision for them. The court must look at each case on its facts. For example, if the unmarried partner is a successful business owner with a good income and a property owner, the court may decide that they do not need a share of the estate. The ruling might be different if the unmarried partner was living on a state pension and the deceased’s adult children were all homeowners and doing well for themselves.  The problem with challenging the intestacy rules is that it can create ill will within a family and it costs both time and money. It is a lot simpler and cheaper to make a Will.    Avoiding intestacy  Avoiding intestacy is easy. All you must do is make sure that you and your loved ones have a Will. It is also important to review your Will and make sure it is up to date. If your Will is not up to date you may end up with a partial intestacy. For example, if you leave half your estate to your brother but your brother passes away before you do so. A partial intestacy can be avoided by updating your Will to name a new beneficiary. In any new Will, it is a good idea to include a ‘what if’ clause. For example, you leave half your estate to your nephew but if he passes away before you then the legacy is shared between his children.  Our solicitors can help you with all your Will and estate administration needs, including if you are unsure about what to do if a relative has passed away without leaving a Will.    If you need help with making a Will or with probate and estate administration call our team or complete our online enquiry form.  
Chris Strogen
Jan 03, 2024   ·   6 minute read
What is Inheritance Tax

What is Inheritance Tax

Nowadays inheritance tax is a bit of a political hot potato with some politicians calling for the ‘death tax’ to be scrapped. Many people are not sure about how inheritance tax works and if inheritance tax would affect their family. Some people stress about the tax and others take the attitude that as it is a death tax it isn’t something that is a big priority.  Our Will solicitors spend their days talking about IHT. They explain what it is, how much your estate could end up paying in tax, and the steps you can take to reduce the IHT payable by your estate. Will solicitors say it is in the best interests of your family and loved ones that you carry out some estate planning. By taking what are often simple steps you will leave more of your estate to your chosen beneficiaries rather than to the tax man. To most people that is a ‘no-brainer.’  For expert Will and estate planning advice complete our online enquiry form.   Who pays inheritance tax?   Inheritance tax (IHT) is payable on a deceased’s estate if the estate is not inheritance tax exempt. Whilst IHT is not a tax that you need to pay during your lifetime there are steps you can take to reduce the IHT liability on your estate. Will solicitors refer to this as estate planning or IHT mitigation.  If you do not engage in estate planning your estate may have to pay a tax bill of 40% of the net value of your estate after considering 2 thresholds:  The IHT threshold of £325,000  - all estates only pay IHT if the estate is valued at more than £325,000. The first £325,000 of an estate is referred to as the nil rate band or NRB  The residence nil rate band of £175,000 – your estate may qualify for an additional £175,000 in nil rate band if you own a property and you are passing it on to your child or grandchildren. If the residence NRB applies to your estate then your net estate will only pay IHT on anything over the first £500,000 ( the £325,000 is added onto the £175,000)  The rate of IHT can be reduced to 36% if you leave at least 10% of your estate to charity.  Calculating the value of your estate  Will solicitors say that you should not assume that your estate will not need to pay IHT if your estate is currently worth less than £325,000 or £500,000. That is because the value of your assets may go up at a faster rate than the government IHT thresholds or the thresholds could even be scrapped.   There can also be confusion about what assets are included in your estate to calculate your estate’s IHT liability. For example:  An insurance policy payment may fall outside your estate because of the wording of the policy  A gift given to a family member may have a percentage of its value added back into your estate if you died within 7 years of making the gift  When a probate solicitor is dealing with an estate administration, they will advise you on IHT liabilities and when any inheritance tax is payable.  Exempt estates  Some estates are exempt from paying IHT. This can be down to one of several factors:  The estate is valued at less than £325,000 (or £500,000 if the estate qualifies for the residence nil rate band of £175,000 on top of the standard IHT threshold of £325,000). The value of the estate could be less than £325,000 because the deceased made lifetime gifts to friends and family and survived for 7 years after making the gift  The estate is left to charity   The estate is left to a husband, wife, or civil partner. This is referred to as the spouse exemption. When the second spouse passes away their estate can use the first spouse’s nil rate band of £325,000 as well as their own so their estate only pays IHT on the value of the estate over £650,000 . [related_posts] Reducing your inheritance tax bill  There are several ways that you can legitimately reduce the potential inheritance tax bill that your estate may end up paying.   One of the more radical IHT suggestions is to get married if you are living with a partner in an unmarried relationship. If you leave your estate in your Will to your new husband or wife then the spouse exemption will apply so no inheritance tax is payable. For an estate worth 1 million, with a nil rate band of £325,000, that is a potential tax saving of £270,000. Before you marry you could decide to sign a prenuptial agreement to safeguard your family money in case of separation or divorce during your lifetime.    Other less radical options include leaving a percentage of your estate to charity to reduce the tax rate from 40% to 36% or using your annual allowance to make gifts to family members.  There are other ways you can reduce your inheritance tax bill. A Will solicitor can explore them with you and work out which ones are suitable for your financial and family circumstances. At the same time, they can review your existing Will to make sure it remains fit for purpose and is tax efficient. If you don’t have a Will then one can be prepared for you.   For expert Will and estate planning advice complete our online enquiry form. 
Chris Strogen
Dec 18, 2023   ·   5 minute read
Financial consultant manager talking with a female client at the bank

Changing a Will After a Death

Changing a Will After a Loved One has Passed Away You may assume that if a relative made a Will their wishes cannot be changed after their death. Strictly speaking, that isn’t correct because, after the death of a loved one, you may be able to change their Will by entering into a deed of variation. In this blog, private client solicitor, Chris Strogen looks at when you can vary a Will and the advantages of doing so. For expert advice on making a Will or for advice on a deed of variation call our team of specialist Will lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. Changing a Will after death A Will can be changed after the death of the person who made the Will by entering into a deed of variation or a deed of family arrangement. A private client solicitor can advise you on whether you can do this and if it is a good option for you. For example, it may be inheritance tax efficient. Who can vary a Will after death? Whether you need the agreement of the executors and the other beneficiaries in the Will to the proposed variation of the Will depends on what you want to change. In some situations, you don’t need the agreement of anyone else and only you will need to sign the deed of variation. A private client solicitor can explain the process when they know what you want to change in the Will and why. [related_posts] Can you change the intestacy provision if the deceased did not make a Will? If the deceased died intestate (without a Will) you can change the intestacy provisions by signing a deed of variation. Who needs to sign the deed depends on the nature of the variation. A deed of variation can be particularly helpful if the deceased was in an unmarried relationship. Under intestacy rules his or her partner will not inherit. Instead, the deceased’s parents receive a share of the estate or more distant relatives. In some families, the family may want to change this so the deceased’s unmarried partner receives all or a share of the estate. When can you sign a deed of variation? The rules say that the deed must be signed within two years of the date of death. If you are contemplating making changes to the Will of a family member or friend it is best to speak to a private client solicitor about the proposed changes as soon as you can do so. The benefits of a deed of variation There are many reasons why a deed of variation might be a good idea, including: The Will has left out a family member by mistake. For example, by naming 2 of 3 children in the Will as the third child was born after the Will was signed. The testator should have either changed their Will on the birth of the third child or preferably (to avoid the issue in the first place) left the estate to any children alive at the date of the testator’s death and if more than one in equal shares The Will is a DIY Will and is not inheritance tax efficient. For example, if the husband had left the estate to his wife, then the spouse exemption would apply, and no inheritance tax would be payable on the death of the first spouse. With a deed of variation giving the estate to the wife, she can then give money to the children. Provided she survives for at least 7 years the gift is IHT free There is a Will dispute and the Will is being challenged or a claimant is saying that intestacy rules do not provide them with reasonable financial provision. If it is accepted that the claimant is likely to receive a share of the estate if their claim goes to court it may be sensible to vary the Will. For example, if a couple were in an unmarried relationship for 20 years but the deceased never got around to changing the Will that he made 30 years ago In an ideal world, people would ensure that their Will is reviewed and up-to-date, and tax efficient before they pass. However, family, work, and other commitments can all get in the way of estate planning. That’s why a deed of variation may be the solution to your situation. For expert advice on making a Will or for advice on a deed of variation call our team of specialist Will lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Chris Strogen
Sep 21, 2023   ·   4 minute read
How Do I Make a Will in the UK?

How Do I Make a Will in the UK?

If you aren’t a Cheshire Will solicitor you may not know where to start with making your Will. In this blog, we look at how to make a Will, something that we should all do to protect our loved ones. For expert advice on making a Will call our team of specialist Will lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. Why you should make a Will It is easy to keep putting off making a Will because you have too much to do or you aren’t sure what to put in your Will but a Will is something that we should all have, whatever our age, state of health, or personal or financial circumstances. If you die without making a Will then you or they die ‘intestate’. The law says where your money or estate goes to. The list of beneficiaries is set out in a statute and cannot be changed to suit your family circumstances or to do what you would have wanted if you had made a Will during your lifetime. For example, you may not have wanted the majority of your estate to go to a third wife but instead to a cousin that you were close to and who had been there for you throughout your life whilst your third marriage was of short duration. Alternatively, you may want to leave your estate to your grandchildren, skipping a generation and not leaving your money to your children. What do I need to make a Will? You don’t need anything to take the first step of making a Will as a Will solicitor can either talk you through the information that they need to prepare the Will for you or if you prefer, they can send you a Will questionnaire for you to complete. The main things that a Will solicitor needs to know to advise you on your Will and prepare it for you are: Roughly how much is your estate worth – you don’t need to get anything valued as all your Will solicitor needs is a very approximate ballpark figure so they know if inheritance tax will be relevant to your estate Whether all of your assets are in the UK – if you own property overseas then you may need another Will to cover your overseas-based property Whether any of your assets are jointly owned – if you own property jointly, for example, with a wife, husband, or civil partner, then your share in the property may pass outside of your Will unless you sever the joint tenancy and convert it to a tenancy in common Whether you have any dependants – a dependant could be a former husband or wife who is receiving spousal maintenance from you, a child receiving child support, or an adult child who is financially reliant on you, or your cohabitee or partner. Whilst you can leave your estate to whom you want as there is no legal requirement to leave all or a share of your estate to your dependants or family members, a Will solicitor can advise you on the prospects of a dependant trying to contest your Will and how to reduce the risk that your Will might be contested Whether you have any children or planned beneficiaries under the age of eighteen – if you do then you may want to consider the appointment of testamentary guardians in your Will for your children. You will also need to consider leaving money in trust for your children or minor beneficiaries The planned executors of your Will and beneficiaries- if you haven’t made any final decisions about your choice of executors (the people named in your Will as responsible for administering and distributing your estate) then don’t worry as your Will solicitor can discuss your options, including the appointment of family members, your private client solicitor or another professional as executor. When it comes to beneficiaries, your Will solicitor can talk you through your options and make sure that your Will is as ‘future proofed’ as possible so that if, for example, you want to leave all your estate to your husband or wife or a share of your estate to an older sibling there are ‘substitution gifts’ in your Will. That means that if your spouse predeceases you their legacy is shared (for example, between your children or in the case of your sibling between your nephews and nieces). Alternatively, the gift can fall back into your estate and form part of the legacy to your residuary beneficiary or beneficiaries [related_posts] When to make a Will Will solicitors say that it is never too early to make a Will or, if you have an existing Will, it is equally important to make sure that the Will is up to date and still reflects your circumstances and wishes. At any important life event, you should consider making or changing your Will. Life events include: Buying your first house – whether on your own or jointly with a partner When you get engaged to marry or enter a civil partnership When you sign a prenuptial agreement When you have children or adopt a child If you separate or divorce from a husband, wife, or partner If you form a new relationship or remarry If you suffer from ill health On retirement If you receive a legacy or inheritance. There are many other scenarios when you should consider making or changing your Will, such as the death of a beneficiary or an executor to your Will. Making a Will can be a very positive experience for you because: It makes you feel that you have taken steps to protect family members and loved ones You can say whom you would like to administer your estate through the appointment of executors of your Will You can safeguard young children with the appointment of a testamentary guardian You can use your Will and estate planning to minimise your estate’s liability to inheritance tax.  How to make a Will The easiest way to make a Will or to change an existing Will is to speak to an experienced private client and Will solicitor. They can look at your goals and objectives and work out how best to achieve them. This may include: Lifetime gifting Inheritance tax planning Lifetime trusts Trusts created in your Will and the flexibility and guidance issued to your trustees with discretionary trusts The structure of legacies and the disposal of your residuary estate Contingency legacies so, for example, a grandchild or children, will receive a legacy instead of their parent if their parent sadly passes away before you do so. Carefully drafted contingency legacies mean that your Will doesn’t have to keep being rewritten on the birth of a new grandchild How to try and ensure that the Will isn’t contested by a dependant leading to litigation against your estate. This can be achieved by carefully assessing what, if any, dependency claims can be brought against your estate and how to minimise the risk of a successful claim  How long does it take to make a Will? The role of a private client and Will solicitor is to make the Will process as simple for you as possible. It is possible to make a Will in a matter of hours but you may, depending on your family circumstances, want to reflect on private client and Will advice before finalising your Will. Your Will isn’t effective until it is executed. That involves your signing your Will witnessed by two witnesses. The best way to make a Will is to take the step of picking up the phone and speaking to a friendly and approachable private client and Will solicitor about your options so that you can achieve a well-drafted Will that protects your family and gives you peace of mind. For expert advice on making a Will call our team of specialist Will lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Chris Strogen
Sep 01, 2023   ·   7 minute read
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Getting the Wording in your Will Right

Where there is a Will there is a way, well that is the old adage. It isn’t always true though. That’s because if you are writing your own Will mistakes can be made that aren’t immediately obvious. Sometimes it is only when a Will solicitor is reviewing a handmade Will, or applying for probate to sort out an estate, that the problem is discovered. For expert advice on Wills and probate call our team of specialist probate lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. Will writing and avoiding mistakes When people give instructions on their new Will most are concerned about getting the addresses of executors and beneficiaries correct without realising that their proposed Will doesn’t actually do what they want. If the problem isn’t spotted before their new Will is finalised it could cause massive heartache for the family. One common example of Will writing mistakes and the importance of getting the wording in your Will right is leaving your estate to your ‘children.’ You know what you mean by your children but legally your estate will go to your biological children, excluding a much-loved step-child whom you may have brought up as your own and never intended to exclude from your Will. The same sort of problem can occur with grandchildren when your children’s relationships are complicated and you have a number of children in your family who are not biologically related to you but whom you view and treat as your grandchildren because you are so close to them. When a Will solicitor is writing a Will it is important to understand family dynamics to make sure that the wording in your Will reflects your family circumstances and your wishes. You may think that a Will mistake can be sorted out by your executors but that involves all interested beneficiaries agreeing to the change and extra work by the probate solicitor. Alternatively, if the excluded relative has the grounds to do so they could challenge the Will and make a claim against the estate. That can be expensive and time-consuming and the last thing that the Will writer anticipated when writing their Will. [related_posts] Will solicitors can't over-emphasise how important it is to consider your family circumstances when writing a Will. For example: If you are in a cohabiting relationship with your partner, they are not legally your husband or wife and so should not be referred to as your spouse in your Will. You may still have a legal spouse if you have not finalised the divorce proceedings and obtained a final order of divorce If you leave your estate equally between your children and one passes away before you do so then your remaining children will inherit your estate. That means your grandchildren from your late child will miss out and will not get a share of your estate even though their cousins will eventually inherit a share of your estate via their parents Leaving money to named children can be a problem if you have any additional children because they will lose out unless you change your Will when they are born. With the work that comes with a new arrival, it can be easy to forget to review and change your Will. A Will solicitor tries to avoid this sort of problem by naming any non-biological children but also ensuring that the definition of biological children includes any additional children you may have Giving a specific legacy to a beneficiary can result in Will problems as you may not own the specific asset at the date of death. That means the beneficiary gets nothing even though that is not what you intended as you simply forgot to review your Will when you sold the specific asset or the property creating an unfair result for the named beneficiary Leaving a large legacy to one person before giving your residuary estate to relatives can be an issue. If the legacy is large you need to continue to review your Will provisions because if, by the date of your death, your estate has reduced in value (for example because of care home fees) your entire estate may be eaten up with the large legacy to an old friend leaving your residual beneficiaries with little or nothing because the old friend’s legacy has to be paid before the residuary beneficiaries receive anything You may think that Will errors and wording mistakes are exceptionally rare but that isn’t the case. Our experience as solicitors who specialise in preparing Wills and helping families sort out probate and legacies after loved ones have passed away say that it is surprisingly common for mistakes to be made in Wills. Most people think their financial affairs are straightforward and so problems won’t crop up in their Will but sadly homemade Wills don’t always do what the Will writer wanted and may cause a lot of extra grief when the Will writer passes away. Get advice from a professional when preparing a Will can save you and your family a lot of money when your estate is sorted out. The cost of getting your Will prepared by a specialist Will solicitor can also save you money during your life as your Will may not need to be changed as often. What’s more the cost and speed of getting a professionally prepared Will is often a lot less than you might think and gives you and your family peace of mind. For expert advice on Wills and probate call our team of specialist probate lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Chris Strogen
May 12, 2023   ·   5 minute read
Woman Helping Senior Neighbor With Paperwork

Do I Need a Lasting Power of Attorney & How Much Will it Cost?

Do you have a Lasting Power of Attorney? Everyone needs a Lasting Power of Attorney and no one can afford to not have one in place. Sadly, most of us don’t realise how important a Lasting Power of Attorney is until there is an accident or decisions need to be taken to help an elderly relative. For expert advice on Lasting Powers of Attorney call our team of specialist LPA lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. What is a Lasting Power of Attorney? A Lasting Power of Attorney authorises nominated members of your family and/or trusted friends to act on your behalf if you are not capable of making your own decisions. There are 2 different types of Lasting Power of Attorney: Health and welfare – this type of Lasting Power of Attorney allows your nominated family or friends (called attorneys) to make decisions about your medical treatment and care needs if you are not able to do so because you lack capacity Property and financial affairs – this type of Lasting Power of Attorney allows your attorneys to manage your financial affairs (for example to manage your bank account, pay bills, or sell your house) if you lack the capacity to make your own decisions You can do one or both types of Lasting Power of Attorney – the decision is yours. The Lasting Power of Attorney is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. A health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney won’t be used unless there comes a time when you lack the capacity to make your own decisions. Provided you have the capacity you can cancel a Lasting Power of Attorney or nominate new attorneys. Do I need a Lasting Power of Attorney? Most people think that an elderly relative might need a Lasting Power of Attorney but don’t think that they need one. However, no one knows when you might need an attorney to quickly act for you, either temporarily (after a ski or car accident) or permanently. That is why everyone needs a Lasting Power of Attorney to cover the what-ifs. What you can’t do is wait until you or your relative has lost capacity (either as a result of an accident, health scare, or dementia) and then ask an LPA lawyer to prepare a Lasting Power of Attorney. To give an example of why a Lasting Power of Attorney is important take the example of a business owner, keen on winter sports and skiing off-piste, who was separated from his wife and living with a new partner. If he were to have an accident and lose capacity then without a financial Lasting Power of Attorney his business might quickly get into trouble as there would be no one with the power to handle matters temporarily (to pay bills and salaries) or long term basis (to employ a manager or sort out a sale of the business). Without a health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, the man’s next of kin would be his estranged wife, rather than his girlfriend, parents, or siblings. Lasting Powers of Attorney are essential to give peace of mind. [related_posts] What happens if there is no Lasting Power of Attorney and capacity is lost If capacity is lost before a Lasting Power of Attorney is in place an application can be made to the Court of Protection for a deputy to be appointed to look after the affairs of the incapacitated person. The appointment of a deputy costs more in legal fees than drawing up a Lasting Power of Attorney. In addition, there is likely to be a delay between the Court of Protection application and the appointment of the deputy. During that period your friends and family won’t be able to access bank accounts to help manage your financial affairs and pay essential bills or make health or care decisions for you. A Lasting Power of Attorney is a bit like a Will; everyone needs one at any age, even if none of us like to think of accidents, dementia, or death. How much does a Lasting Power of Attorney cost? A bespoke Will and Lasting Power of Attorney drawn up by an experienced and regulated solicitor isn’t as much as you might fear. Very few law firms publish price information on their websites. Evolve is one of the first law firms to publish fixed fees for the preparation of Powers of Attorney so you have an idea of our charges before making a call or emailing us. Take a look at Our Prices | Standard Fixed Fees. The Evolve Family Law fixed fees mean you get private client Lasting Power of Attorney assistance tailored to your personal situation, based on what is best for you in return for charges that are affordable and you can understand. Everyone’s personal and financial circumstances are different and that is why it is so important that everyone has protection in place to protect themselves and their family. For expert advice on Lasting Powers of Attorney call our team of specialist LPA lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Chris Strogen
Mar 01, 2023   ·   5 minute read
Applying for Probate

Applying for Probate

When a family member passes away, with or without leaving a Will, the process of sorting out the personal and financial affairs of the deceased can seem overwhelming. This is often not helped by the need to obtain probate before the family can access funds and distribute the estate in accordance with the Will. In this article, specialist private client lawyer, Chris Strogen, offers guidance on what probate is and how to go about applying for it. For expert advice on Wills and probate call our team of specialist probate lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. What is probate? When someone dies their assets and property (known as their estate) are left in limbo until someone gets the legal right to deal with their property and possessions by applying for probate and obtaining a grant of representation or letters of administration. How do you apply for probate? Normally, the probate application process involves these stages: Check and see if there is a Will – the Will may be kept with other important papers, at the bank or a solicitor’s office. If there is a Will the people authorised to sort out the deceased’s financial affairs (known as the executors) will apply for probate. If there is no Will then family members can apply for the grant Estimate the value of the estate – this is necessary so you know if inheritance tax is likely to be payable by the estate Pay any inheritance tax due – this needs to be sorted out before applying for probate Complete and submit a probate application form and where necessary an inheritance tax form What happens after probate is granted? The executors will need to: Pay any remaining inheritance tax that is payable Pay any debts Collect any property, for example, selling a share portfolio or a family home or investments Distribute the estate, either under the terms of the Will or, if there is no Will, under the intestacy rules Do you have to get probate? Sometimes it is possible to sort out a deceased’s financial affairs without applying for probate. For example: If the deceased person did not own any property or property was jointly held and passed automatically to the survivor The deceased held a joint bank account with a husband, wife, or partner so the savings or bank account passed automatically to the joint account holder The deceased’s bank may consider the account balance small enough to release without the formality of probate [related_posts]  Is getting probate straightforward? The complexity of the probate process depends on how complex the deceased’s estate, family dynamics, and Will is. Sometimes getting probate is straightforward but there are often things to sort out or check such as: Entitlement to bereavement allowance Whether it is in the family’s best interests to change a Will after death (known as a deed of variation). Executing a deed of variation  can result in inheritance tax savings Resolve any inheritance claims by family or dependants who want to challenge the Will or do not think that they will receive reasonable financial provision under the intestacy rules Obtaining a presumption of death certificate Sorting out life insurance and pension claims – these benefits may or may not pass under the terms of the deceased’s Will Sorting out the creation and administration of any Trusts created in the Will Changing the appointment of Executors How much does probate cost? Some people have complex finances and businesses and there is therefore a lot of legal work to do to get probate. However, even if the deceased’s estate is not complex, it often pays for executors to get specialist legal help to make sure that the estate does not pay more than it needs to in inheritance tax and that the estate is distributed correctly. If you need help in applying for probate call Chris Strogen at Evolve Family Law for a quote. For expert advice on Wills and probate call our team of specialist probate lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Chris Strogen
Feb 21, 2023   ·   4 minute read
Positive senior ladies signing documents at notary. Focus on brunette

Who Inherits Under Intestacy?

Should I make a Will? Won't intestacy rules protect my family? It is important that everyone has an up-to-date Will. I am not just saying that because I’m a private client solicitor who specialises in preparing Wills! I am saying it because, in my job, I see the extra heartache and the legal costs when a loved one dies without a Will or dies with a Will that is not fit for purpose. Why make a Will, aren’t there intestacy rules to say who the money goes to? That is a question that I’m often asked. It is right; if you don’t have a Will then under intestacy rules your money will go to your relatives. However dying intestate means you don’t get a say over who your money goes to. In some situations it can mean that wealthy parents get all your money (creating a bigger inheritance tax bill when they pass away) whereas you might have wanted some of your money to go to a girlfriend, a nephew or to charity. It also means that it is more likely that family members will fall out over the money allocated to them under the intestacy rules. If you make a Will then you decide who gets your money. You can also put conditions on gifts, such as a child should only get their inheritance when they are 25 or older. You can also decide who should sort out your estate by appointing executors and trustees in your Will. The trustees can be given the power to advance money to your children if they need it, for example to pay university fees. In some family scenarios dying without a Will doesn’t create a lot of additional legal complications (although it may still create extra stress for family members). However in some family situations it does, such as: unmarried partners and families; where you have been married more than once; if you have young children who need legal protection, such as appointing a testamentary guardian in your Will ; if you are a business owner. Most of us understand the need to sort out insurance for our family and preparing a Will should be on the same ‘to do’ list as one of life’s essentials. I have a Will, does it need updating because of my marriage? When you marry any existing Will is automatically revoked, meaning that if you die your money passes under intestacy rules. Those rules may produce a very unfair result or a legal dispute between relatives over who should get what. It is therefore vital that you make a new Will when you get married or alternatively say in your Will that the Will is being made in contemplation of your planned marriage. I am getting divorced. Do I need a new Will? If your marriage is ended by a court order (like divorce or annulment) your Will is not void or invalid. What happens is that any gift to your former spouse takes effect as if he or she had died on the date your decree became absolute. That usually means the gift falls back into residue for the benefit of the residuary beneficiaries. Of course, if you had left everything to him or her, then the effect is as if you had died intestate and the rules of intestacy once again decide how your estate is distributed. Similarly, if by your Will you had appointed your spouse as an executor or trustee, the Will still takes effect as if he or she had died on the date the decree became absolute. Even if you had appointed him or her as trustee of a trust for the benefit of the children of both of you, or as a guardian of a child or children, the trust fails. That might not be what you want - although you are divorced, you may still like your ex-husband or ex-wife to be responsible for any children's trust fund. So it is best to make a new Will immediately after your divorce, especially if your spouse or civil partner was a beneficiary or a trustee. However, because your Will does not become invalid at divorce, you can make a new Will at any time after separation but before divorce so that these issues do not occur. You do not have to await the decree absolute. I own a property with my partner. I don’t own anything else so I don’t need a Will. There is more than one legal way to jointly own a house. If you jointly own a house as ‘’joint tenants’’ the surviving partner automatically inherits the property. However many co-owners buy a house with their partner as ‘’tenants in common’’. This type of joint ownership means that their share of the property passes by their Will or if there is no Will under intestacy rules. It is always important to check how you jointly own a house when preparing a Will. Can I write my own Will? Yes, you can but I wouldn’t recommend that you do so. That is because Wills are tricky legal documents. The consequences of getting the Will wrong can be legally expensive and stressful for your family. It can also add to the risk that someone might challenge the Will. The legal Court costs of challenging a Will are high. So , in my view , it is money well spent to get specialist legal advice to make sure your Will is fit for purpose and to get it reviewed when significant life events (such as marriage, the birth of children or grandchildren, divorce, new relationships) occur. [related_posts] How much does a Will cost? A bespoke Will drawn up by an experienced and regulated solicitor isn’t as much as you might think. Evolve is one of the first law firms to publish fixed fees for Wills. Take a look at our online price list so you have an idea of our charges before making a call or emailing us. If you already have a Will then you may want to get us to check and review it. That’s because family and personal circumstances change so your old Will may not be ‘’fit for purpose’’. Some people have complex finances and businesses and need in depth advice on trusts and estate planning or on domicile. However, even if your situation is not complex, it is be easy to fall foul of inheritance tax and that means your estate could pay more than it needs to in tax. Your old Will might have cumbersome tax planning clauses that are no longer needed and future expense can be avoided. You and your family may therefore benefit substantially from tax input. If you need advice on tax structures, trusts or overseas assets then please call me for a quote. Everyone needs a Will and as all of our personal and financial circumstances are different. That is why it is important that everyone takes bespoke advice, at a cost they can understand, to make sure that their Will meets their needs. If you need a Will or a Lasting Power of Attorney or want me to review your existing Will or Lasting Power of Attorney then please contact us.
Chris Strogen
Jul 14, 2022   ·   7 minute read