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Estate Planning

Woman meeting notary for advice

Talking to a Family Lawyer

We all fear some appointments, whether it is an appointment with a doctor or dentist, or meeting your family lawyer for the first time. In this blog, family law solicitor, Louise Halford, looks at how to get the most out of your first meeting with your family lawyer. For expert Divorce, Children and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form. In this article we look at: Choosing your family law solicitor Timing your appointment Company at your appointment Preparing for your appointment Talking to your family solicitor Choosing your family law solicitor Before your initial consultation with your family law solicitor, it is best to do some research on whether your family lawyer and the firm are the right fit for you. Just because a friend found a family solicitor wonderful in their divorce, it doesn’t mean they will necessarily be right for you, or that they are experts in the area of family law you need advice on. At Evolve Family Law, we believe in being proactive in helping you choose the right family solicitor for you. That’s why we publish information about the lawyers and our fee guide on our website. We will also speak to you to try and make sure there you are seeing the best solicitor for you at your initial consultation. That’s because family lawyers, just like consultants and surgeons, specialise in different areas of family law. If you need urgent advice about child abduction fears and child relocation orders you don’t want to see a solicitor who has a particular interest in international prenuptial agreements when the firm has expert children law and child abduction lawyers. Timing your appointment It is never too early to have an initial consultation. It can be helpful for you to learn about likely children or financial settlement options should you go ahead with a planned separation. That way you can make informed choices. Taking family law legal advice does not commit you to starting children law or financial court proceedings but it does help you work out the best options for you, through having the information you need to make informed decisions. [related_posts] Company at your appointment If you want to bring a friend or a family member to your appointment that should be fine with your family solicitor. Bringing someone with you can be really helpful as they can make sure that you are asking the questions you want answers to. They can also discuss the advice you received with you after the meeting. All family solicitors ask of you is; to choose the person who comes with you with care. That is because you may be discussing personal issues at your appointment. Your solicitor will not want you to feel inhibited and unable to be totally open about the reasons why you need help and legal advice. Also, a family friend or relative needs to be there as a support, rather than to take over the appointment to discuss their own family law problems or their own views on your relationship or family law issue. If they do that, it is frustrating for both you and your family lawyer solicitor as we both need to focus on you. Therefore, if you want company at your appointment, think about who will provide the best support to help you to get the most out of your consultation. Preparing for your appointment Whilst you are welcome to just turn up to your phone, zoom or office appointment, it can help some people to prepare for the appointment. We don’t mean anything ‘too heavy’ by this. Just have a think about why you need advice and the background. For example, your family solicitor may want to know the date of your marriage or date of separation or when your children were born or the approximate date of when an incident occurred . It is surprising how easy it is to forget dates or to only remember the questions you wanted to ask your solicitor after your consultation. Lawyers like questions, so do bring a list of questions with you. Whilst a family lawyer may not be able to fully answer all your questions at a first meeting, they will be able to tell you what information they need to gather to fully answer your queries. Talking to your family solicitor An initial consultation with a family solicitor is a ‘two-way street’; your family lawyer needs to know a bit about you and about your family law query as well as your goals. Armed with that information a family solicitor can help you get the best out of an initial consultation. Consultations work best when you have the confidence to ask your questions. You therefore should not worry about whether your questions are too basic or whether your solicitor will think you should know the answers. Likewise, your lawyer may need to ask you some questions that you don’t think are very relevant to your family solicitor answering your questions. However, there are some questions that will help your lawyer understand the circumstances so your legal advisor can then work out how best to answer your questions as accurately and as thoroughly as possible. For expert Divorce and Financial Settlement advice call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Louise Halford
Mar 17, 2022   ·   5 minute read
woman helping senior with paperwork

What is a Grant of Probate?

When you have suffered a bereavement, it can be hard to navigate what you need to do to sort out a loved one’s estate and their financial affairs. In this article we look at what a grant of probate is and whether you will need to obtain one.Manchester and Cheshire Will and probate solicitors Evolve Family Law specialise in private client law advice. For advice about probate or making a new Will call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law have offices in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our private client and Will solicitors are experienced in working remotely and meetings are available by telephone appointment or video call.What is probate? Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person so that assets are gathered in, any debts paid and the estate distributed. If the deceased left a valid Will their estate will be distributed in accordance with the terms of the Will. If the deceased didn’t make a Will their estate will be distributed in accordance with intestacy rules. If there is an intestacy, the legal process of administering the estate is called ‘letters of administration’. Who deals with probate? The task of an executor named in a Will is to deal with probate. Most executors don’t deal with the probate personally but instead ask a probate solicitor to deal with the legal work for them. As an executor they retain overall control of the administration of the estate and give instructions to the solicitor. If the deceased died without making a Will, they died ‘intestate’ and the intestacy rules say who can apply to administer the estate and who will receive the estate. An administrator can ask a probate solicitor to administer the estate on their behalf. What is a grant of probate? A grant of probate is the legal document that gives the executor of a Will the legal authority to act. Without a grant of probate most third parties won't act on the instructions of an executor as they need evidence that the deceased has died and that the person contacting them is the authorised executor or administrator of the estate. How do you apply for a grant of probate? In most situations the grant of probate follows a set path, namely: The executor, or the probate solicitor instructed by them, gets information about the estate, including the assets and any debts The grant of representation is applied for An inheritance tax form is completed and, if necessary, any IHT can be paid The grant of probate is received The assets of the estate are gathered in (for example, shares or property may be sold depending on the terms of the Will) Any debts payable by the estate are discharged (for example, outstanding care home fees or utility bills on a property) The estate is then distributed in accordance with the Will or intestacy rules. Estate accounts are prepared to show the monies and assets received, debts and taxes paid and how the estate was distributed. Some grants of probate are straightforward but others can be complicated. For example: If the named executors in the Will do not get on If the beneficiaries of the Will are potentially going to challenge the speed or work of the executors in securing the grant of probate and distributing the estate If the validity of the Will is challenged If there is a dispute over the Will and questions over whether it made fair financial provision for a dependant of the deceased If there are likely to be complicated inheritance tax, CGT, trust or sale issues because of the size of the estate or the nature of the assets. For example, if the deceased died within a short time of making lifetime gifts or where the estate consists of a large buy to let property portfolio or some assets are overseas, such as a holiday home The family want to change the Will provisions through a deed of variation. Who pays for probate? Some people think that if they are named as an executor in a Will that they have to undertake the obtaining of the grant of probate personally. That isn’t normally the case as Wills enable an executor to instruct a probate solicitor. The costs of the grant of probate and the probate solicitor come out of the estate before it is distributed to the beneficiaries. The probate solicitors’ cost will depend on the size and complexity of the estate. Fixed fee or hourly cost quotes should be made available. At Evolve Family Law we believe it is very important that fees are transparent and publish a price guide on our website. The guide says for work up to and including grant of probate, for a non-taxable estate, our probate solicitor fees are £1060 inclusive of vat. For a bespoke quote please call us and we can look at the work you would like us to do. Is a grant of probate necessary? In some family situations, an executor or a loved one or beneficiary will question if a grant of probate is necessary. Probate solicitors say this question is totally understandable as no one wants to go through unnecessary processes. In situations where the estate is very small a grant of probate may not be needed. Whether you need a grant of probate or not doesn’t depend on whether there is a Will or not or whether a husband or wife is inheriting the entire estate, but rather depends on the size and nature of the assets in the estate. If there is a property to sell, a grant of probate will always be required. If you aren’t sure whether a grant of probate will be needed or not our Manchester and Cheshire probate solicitors are always happy to advise you on if a grant of probate is needed and, if so, the likely probate solicitors’ fees for securing probate for the estate.Manchester and Cheshire probate and Will solicitors Evolve Family Law specialise in private client law advice. For advice about a grant of probate or your responsibilities as an executor or whether you can challenge a Will call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law have offices located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our private client and Will solicitors are experienced in working remotely and offer meetings by telephone appointment or video call.Latest From Our Wills & Probate Blog:
Catherine Hazeldine
Apr 15, 2021   ·   6 minute read
side view of concentrated couple reading contract during meeting with lawyer in office

What is Probate?

Lawyers refer to ‘the probate’ of a loved one and often make assumptions that everyone knows what probate is. That certainly isn’t the case but sometimes, after the death of a loved one or relative, you are too upset or embarrassed to ask questions about probate and what it involves. In this blog we look at what probate is, what it involves and answer your questions about probate.Cheshire Probate Solicitors If you need help and advice or have a question about probate then the Wills and probate team at Evolve Family Law can help you.  Call us on 0345 222 8 222 for a no obligation chat or complete our online enquiry form and we can set up a telephone appointment, video conference, or Skype call.Jump to: What is probate? Do you always need to get probate? Does an estate have to go through probate if there is a Will? What happens during probate? Step by step guide to probate Do you need a probate solicitor to get probate? What is Probate? Probate is the name of the legal process that may have to be undertaken when a person passes away to legally enable the deceased person’s assets , property and belongings to be sold or transferred in accordance with the Will or, if the deceased left no Will, under intestacy rules.   The word ‘probate’ is a legal term, like conveyancing for the legal work connected with a house sale or purchase. It is just a historic word for sorting out the legal paperwork after the death of the deceased. Do you always need to get probate? Not every estate needs to go through probate. It is a blessing if an estate does not have to go through probate as it saves the relatives and beneficiaries time and money if the estate of the deceased does not have to go through probate.   If you are uncertain if an estate will need to go to probate it is best to ask a Cheshire Probate solicitor who will be able, with a bit of information about the size and contents of the estate, to be able to tell you if probate is needed and, if so, how long it is likely to take and cost in legal fees.Does an estate have to go through probate if there is a Will? An estate doesn’t necessarily have to go through probate if there is a Will. That is because probate doesn’t depend on whether the deceased left a Will or died without a Will (intestate) but on the size of the estate and the type of assets it contains. That is why it is best to get specialist help so the estate doesn’t spend unnecessary money on probate if it isn’t needed.What happens during probate? If you are told that your loved one or your relative’s estate needs to go through probate then it is difficult to understand what takes the time unless you know what probate involves.   Probate is the technical term for the legal process of sorting out the property, money, possessions (called the estate) and the financial affairs of the person who has died. If the deceased died without leaving a Will then ‘letters of administration’ are needed before the estate can be disposed of in accordance with intestacy rules.   If the deceased died leaving a valid Will then a ‘ grant of probate ‘ is needed before the estate can be distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the Will.   Once the letters of administration or grant of probate is obtained then the next of kin or the executors of the Will have the legal authority to sell or transfer the assets in the estate, either according to intestacy rules or the provisions in the Will.Step by step guide to probate If you are the next of kin or the executor of a Will it can be frustrating to think that ‘nothing is happening’ but probate takes time because it involves: Identifying the deceased’s assets and liabilities. How difficult this is depends on the paperwork left by the deceased and the nature of their estate and any liabilities. This is the first step to see if probate is needed and to determine the value of their Estate Checking if the deceased died intestate or with a valid Will and identifying the relevant next of kin under the intestacy rules or beneficiaries under the Will Calculating the value of the estate and seeing whether any inheritance tax is payable to HMRC. A tax return has to be completed Applying to the probate registry for the letters of administration or grant of probate Once the documents are provided by the probate registry paying off any debts and liabilities from cash left by the deceased or selling assets to pay any debts that the deceased had at the time of his or her death and, where necessary, paying any inheritance tax payable on the estate to HMRC Preparing estate accounts to record the assets in the estate (including cash movements from the date of death of the deceased) to show what assets have been sold and what liabilities and debts paid. These accounts are approved by either the executors of the Will or, in the case of an intestacy, by the deceased’s next of kin Checking to make sure that there are no challenges to the Will or claims against the estate and , if not, arranging for the balance of the estate to be distributed to the next of kin entitled to the estate under intestacy rules or the beneficiaries under the Will. This can involve the sale or transfer of the family home or an investment portfolio. If the estate is large or complex then sometimes interim distributions are made until the estate can finally be sorted out and any final dispositions made to the next of kin or beneficiaries. Do you need a probate solicitor to get probate? You don’t have to use a probate solicitor to secure probate. The choice is yours. However, the size and the complexity of the estate might make it best to instruct a probate solicitor. For example, if there is likely to be inheritance tax payable or capital gains tax. Other scenarios that would justify using a probate solicitor to secure probate for the estate include: The next of kin in an intestacy or the executors of a Will don’t get on very well with one another or there are ‘trust issues’ One of the next of kin or the beneficiaries is very keen for the estate to be distributed very quickly and you don’t have the time to sort out the estate as quickly as they would wish There is the potential for the Will to be challenged, either by someone saying that the Will isn’t valid or that the deceased didn’t leave reasonable financial provision for a family member or dependant out of their estate. Claims can also be made against an estate if the deceased died without leaving a Will and a close family member or dependent says that the intestacy provision doesn’t make reasonable financial provision for them Protecting the executors from personal liabilities arising from acting as the executor of a Will. For example, protection from tax liabilities The complexity of the estate, for example does the estate include a family business or should a deed of variation be completed to minimise inheritance tax payable on the estate?   There are other reasons why you may want or need to use a probate solicitor and that is why it is best to talk to a probate solicitor about what getting probate involves and the costs and timescales before making a decision about whether to apply for probate without a solicitor.Cheshire probate solicitors If you have questions about probate or need advice on getting probate please call Chris Strogen at Evolve Family Law for a no-obligation chat and quote. Call us on 0345 222 8 222 or email Chris at . Appointments are available in Holmes Chapel Cheshire or Manchester or by video conference, Skype or telephone appointment.Latest From Our Family Finance Blogs:
Chris Strogen
Apr 28, 2020   ·   7 minute read
Do I Need a New Will?

Do I Need a New Will?

In this blog we answer your questions on whether you need a new Will. People tend to assume that a Will is good for the rest of their life or that their Will needs updating every year or so. The answer to whether your Will needs changing often lies in whether changes have occurred in your personal or financial circumstances or whether the personal or financial circumstances of your family and your planned beneficiaries have changed.Online Cheshire Will solicitors If you need advice about making a Will or changing your current Will then the Wills and estate planning team at Evolve Family Law can help you.  Call us on 0345 222 8 222 for a no obligation cat to see if you need a new Will or complete our online enquiry form and we can set up a telephone appointment, video conference, or Skype call.Do I need a new Will? The answer to whether you need a new Will is ‘maybe and lets have a proper chat about it’. That is because so much depends upon your individual personal and financial circumstances. It may be that nothing significant has changed for you or any of your beneficiaries. In that case your Will may be OK. However, it is still good to check as if your Will was prepared some years ago, or drafted by a non-specialist solicitor, it may not be as tax efficient as it could be.   There are also many occasions where a Will maker decides that they would like to make some bequests or additional specific bequests to family members or friends (such as the gift of a fob watch to a grandson or an eternity ring to a daughter or to a close friend).   If you want to make a single specific bequest (or add a single additional bequest to the ones already contained in your Will) then it may be possible to do this by getting your Wills and estate planning solicitor to prepare a codicil for you (a supplemental document to your existing Will). In other scenarios, it is easier and potentially less confusing for a new Will to be drawn up. For example, if beneficiaries in your existing Will have moved house or changed their surname because of marriage or divorce and so your original Will could benefit from a bit of tidying up.   In many circumstances, people don’t realise that their Will is no longer fit for purpose and needs a complete overhaul and a rewrite. That is because changes in personal or financial circumstances may not seem legally significant to you but they can be.   When do I need a new Will? You need to take legal advice from a Cheshire Wills and estate planning solicitor if any of the following applies to you: Your original executors of your Will have passed away and there is no substitution of executor clause in your Will You have got married or remarried You have separated from your wife, husband, civil partner or partner You have formed a new relationship – you still need estate planning advice whether or not you want to leave a share of your estate to your new partner. If you don’t review your estate planning and take appropriate action then you may increase the prospects of a claim being made against your estate to challenge your Will. The risks of this can be minimised if you make a new Will You have new step children or step grandchildren and they aren’t already included in your Will as a class of beneficiaries Covering unforeseen events if your original Will doesn’t set out what will happen if one of your beneficiaries dies before you or specifically names your children or grandchildren but you now have had additional births within the family Age of inheritance - you may want to change the age that your beneficiaries can inherit. For example, increase the age from eighteen to twenty five or increase the powers of your trustees so that they can advance monies to any young beneficiaries to help with education fees or other specified expenses Your beneficiary’s personal or financial circumstances have changed.   There are lots of other reasons why your Will may need to be reviewed. It is best to take legal advice every couple of years to double check that your Will still meets your needs and protects your family and loved ones.   Why should I change my Will if my beneficiary’s circumstances change? It may appear to you that the change in your beneficiary’s personal or financial circumstances isn’t relevant to your Will or estate planning but it is best to review your Will if your beneficiary: Gets married – especially if they don’t sign a prenuptial agreement prior to their marriage .You may want to place their inheritance in trust to protect the family money Separates or divorces from their husband, wife or civil partner. That is because if you leave a legacy to a beneficiary who is going through a separation or divorce , and you pass away, their spouse or civil partner may try to make a claim on the money. This can be avoided by making a new Will or placing the legacy in a trust that can form part of your new Will Passes away without your current Will saying who you would like to receive their legacy instead of them. For example, you may want their legacy to be shared between their children Is made bankrupt or is at risk of bankruptcy. If a beneficiary inherits money whilst bankrupt the money will go to their trustee in bankruptcy Has mental health issues or special needs as you may not have realised at the time that you made your Will that your beneficiary had these difficulties. For example, if you made your Will many years ago prior to the birth of your children or grandchildren and simply left your estate ‘to your children’. One of your beneficiaries may need the protection of a trust that can be created in your new Will Your beneficiary isn’t financially prudent so you may prefer to delay the date that they can receive your legacy or place it into trust.   Updating your Will is one of those chores that we can put off but it is best not to. If you are uncertain about whether your Will needs reviewing and updating then it is best to take legal advice from a Wills and estate planning solicitor.Online Cheshire Will and estate planning solicitors For advice on changing your Will or estate planning call the efficient and friendly team  Will and estate planning solicitors at Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222  for a no obligation chat about whether you need a new Will or complete our online enquiry form and we will arrange a telephone appointment , video conferencing or Skype call to discuss how we can help you. ​Latest From Our Family Finance Blog:
Chris Strogen
Apr 09, 2020   ·   6 minute read
Family Estate Planning document and fountain pen

How Do You Remove an Executor From a Will?

If you have inherited a legacy, whether it is a part share in a house or a cash gift, you are reliant on the executors of an estate to sort out Probate , gather in the assets and then distribute the assets in accordance with the deceased’s Will.   The Executor of a Will The executors of a Will are people chosen by the deceased to handle their Will. The executors could be family members, friends or professionals, such as a solicitor, accountant or the bank.   If the executors are friends or family of the deceased then the executors can hand over a lot of the responsibility for sorting out the deceased’s estate by instructing a probate solicitor to administer the probate and the sale of assets and the distribution of legacies to beneficiaries. Most lay people take this option as they are honouring the appointment made in the deceased’s Will but not leaving themselves open to criticisms about delays in payment of legacies or problems with securing probate.   However, a friend or family member appointed as an executor may not get on with the other executors or with the beneficiaries. The executor may say that they want to sort out the probate themselves, leaving the beneficiaries fearing there will be a delay in sorting out the estate and payment of legacies. In other situations, the deceased may have appointed a bank as his or her executor not appreciating that the bank’s charges for handling the estate may be a lot more than a local Cheshire probate solicitor. The additional administrative charges might be an issue for the beneficiaries as the costs of sorting out probate and administering the estate will be deducted from the estate before the residuary estate, after payment of any legacies, is divided between the residuary beneficiaries.   How do you Remove an Executor from a will? If you think that an executor is not up to the job or you think that they are too slow or maybe acting improperly then a court application can be made. The court can make a wide range of orders including an order to remove an executor.   Cheshire probate solicitors normally recommend that you try to resolve the difficulties with an executor first before starting court proceedings. Sadly, that isn’t always possible and so, as a last resort, court proceedings can be started to secure an order to remove an executor.   Avoiding Executor Problems A good private client and Cheshire probate solicitor will discuss the choice of executors when preparing a Will. After all, it is important that the executors are not too elderly or frail to be up to the task and will be able to work with one another.   It is sometimes thought that it does not really matter who the executor is if the executors are just going to appoint a solicitor to sort out the estate for them. It is still important to choose your executors with care and to make sure that they are willing to undertake the task for you.     For more information about removing an executor or if you have any questions about probate or estate planning call Chris Strogen on +44 (0) 1477 464020 or email
Chris Strogen
Nov 18, 2019   ·   3 minute read
Can I Give Away My Inheritance?

Can I Give Away My Inheritance?

It may seem a very odd thing to do but, in some personal and financial circumstances, the decision to give away an inheritance is the right thing to do.   Most people assume that if they have the good fortune to inherit something under a loved one’s Will or intestacy provision, they have to accept the legacy. This isn't always the case.   In an ideal world, it should not be necessary to consider giving away a legacy because the loved one would have left a Will, rather than dying intestate, or would have discussed the bequest in the Will and would have updated their Will.   However, what does happen if you receive a gift as part of an inheritance and you decide you do not want or need it? There are a number of circumstances where the beneficiary of a Will may not want to receive their inheritance, for example: They may want to make provision for someone who has been excluded from the Will; or They may want to give their share of the deceased’s estate to a family member who is not as financially well off as they are ; or They may want to equalise the gifts if the testator has favoured them over other beneficiaries; or They may wish to give all of their legacy or part of it to charity; or They may want to make the Will tax efficient.   Deeds of Variation In order to make changes to a Will after the death of the testator, a Deed of Variation should be drawn up.   So that the tax advantages from the Deed of Variation can be obtained, the document has to be signed and executed within two years of the date of death of the testator.   A Deed of Variation can be executed before or after the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration (if the deceased died intestate without a Will) has been obtained. Any beneficiaries who are affected by change in Wills  must agree and sign a Deed of Variation. Furthermore, all the personal representatives of the estate should also ideally sign the Deed of Variation.   Who Can Sign a Deed of Variation? If a beneficiary has capacity to make their own decisions then they have the authority to execute a Deed of Variation. A beneficiary under the age of eighteen cannot sign a Deed of Variation. No one else can sign a Deed of Variation on behalf of a minor child.   How Can a Deed of Variation Reduce Tax? A Deed of Variation may be the answer if a Will has not been drawn properly to obtain the best tax treatment or the tax rules have changed. For example, executing a Deed of Variation may reduce the inheritance tax payable by: Varying the gifts in a Will to leave money to charity. Any gift to charity does not attract an inheritance tax charge. If charities are left at least ten percent of the net estate then the estate can qualify for a reduced rate of inheritance tax of thirty-six percent, instead of forty percent; If a husband or wife died without a Will, with children, the surviving wife, husband or civil partner will receive assets up to £250,000 and half the remainder of the estate. The other half of the estate would pass to the children. If the amount going to the children exceeds £325,000 then this will attract inheritance tax. A Deed of Variation can be signed so the entire estate passes to the surviving spouse or civil partner. If an estate passes to a surviving spouse or civil partner no inheritance tax is payable. The transferable nil-rate band can be utilised on the second death.   It pays to get legal advice on whether a Deed of Variation is a sensible option. Some may think that a Deed is unnecessary but with expert legal advice, it can save on inheritance tax and money to get a Deed of Variation drawn up.   For advice about preparing a Deed of Variation or drawing up a Will or estate planning please call +44 (0) 1477 464020 or by email at
Chris Strogen
  ·   4 minute read
Divorce and family money held in trust

What is a Lifetime Gift UK?

Lifetime gifting is on the rise. That is not surprising, as nowadays children need a financial helping hand to get them on the property ladder. However, when parents give cash to their children they often do not know the UK rules on ‘’what is a lifetime gift’’. As Cheshire Wills and Probate solicitors, it is important to us that parents and other benefactors with estates that will be potentially liable to inheritance tax, as well as the children receiving the benefit of the lifetime UK gift, understand the complex inheritance tax rules so that they can make informed decisions. According to HMRC research, 13% of the UK population have made a lifetime gift of £1,000 or more in the last two years .Just under half of the lifetime gifters said that they did not know the inheritance tax rules on UK lifetime gifts before making the gift. What is a lifetime gift UK? The definition of a ‘’lifetime gift UK‘’ is relatively simple. It is a gift, given without ‘’strings‘’ or conditions for its return to a beneficiary during a donor’s lifetime. A gift made in a Will is a legacy that is only effective after the donor’s death. Cheshire Wills and Probate solicitors say that whilst the definition of a lifetime gift UK may be straightforward, inheritance tax rules on lifetime gifting are not. Lifetime gifting UK and the annual exemption and small gifts Current inheritance tax rules say a donor is entitled to give £3,000 in gifts each year exempt from inheritance tax. Lifetime gifting UK and the seven-year rule If a donor wants to give more than £3,000 away in a year, they can do so. However, unless the gift falls within one of the HMRC recognised exceptions, it could become subject to inheritance tax when the donor dies under the “seven-year rule”. For example, if a parent gives a child £40,000 for a house deposit then there may be an ‘‘inheritance tax time bomb’’ if the parent does not survive for seven years after the transfer of the gift. That is subject to size of the parent’s estate, the availability of the parent’s inheritance tax nil rate band for lifetime gifts and the residence nil rate band. Lifetime gifting UK and the small gifts exemption Cheshire Will and Private Client solicitors say that gifters are entitled to use the ‘’small gifts exemption’’ to give up to £250 to as many people as they choose. However, the small gift exemption cannot be used with the annual gift exemption. It also cannot be used to reduce large gifts made to an individual. Lifetime gifting UK, marriage, and civil partnership Under current rules, parents can give up to £5,000, grandparents £2,500, and anyone else £1,000 to a couple who are getting married or entering a civil partnership, without future inheritance tax consequences. Lifetime gifting UK to a spouse or civil partner Gifts to a spouse or civil partner are normally inheritance tax free, subject to the proviso that the couple must have the same domicile. If one partner is UK domiciled and the other is not, then complicated inheritance tax rules and exemptions apply. Lifetime gifting UK and normal expenditure out of income This exemption allows a donor to make regular gifts from surplus income (not from capital or the sale of property). Gifts from surplus income are inheritance tax free on death, even if the donor dies within seven years of transferring the gift. Cheshire Private Client solicitors recommend that professional advice is taken on the definition of “normal expenditure” and “income” to avoid future difficulties with proving that the gifts were made out of income and as part of the donor’s normal expenditure. Lifetime gifting UK and family maintenance The family maintenance exemption allows donors to make gifts for a spouse or civil partner’s maintenance or for the maintenance, training or education of children under eighteen, free of future inheritance tax. Lifetime gifting and exceptions Other major exception to lifetime gifting and potential payment of inheritance tax are lifetime gifting made to organisations, such as: Charities; Gifts to the nation for national purposes ; Political parties (if they qualify). Lifetime gifting UK legal advice Lifetime gifting is undoubtedly a lovely thing to do to help friends and family. However, Cheshire Wills and Private Client solicitors recommend that lifetime gifting should only be undertaken after taking detailed estate planning legal advice and once the potential inheritance tax implications are understood. Just as importantly, solicitors advise that lifetime gifting UK is not an alternative to preparing a Will. For advice about lifetime gifting and estate planning or for information about drawing up a new Will please call Chris Strogen on +44 (0) 1477 464020 or email Chris Strogen at
Chris Strogen
Oct 28, 2019   ·   4 minute read
Last will and testament with pen and reading glasses.

How Much Does it Cost to Make a Will?

Most solicitors who prepare Wills or sort out Probate of an estate are a bit wary of talking about how much it costs to make a Will or administer a Probate. At Evolve Family Law, the ethos of the firm and solicitors is to be upfront about fees and to publish them in our price guide. If you need a straightforward Will prepared for you, then the cost will be £300. There are no hidden extras. The price includes VAT. If you are married and your husband or your wife or civil partner needs an identical Will, then the all-inclusive cost for both Wills is £450. You may think that a Will is expensive but the reality is that it is not when you compare how much you, your loved ones or your estate could end up spending in legal fees if you or a relative dies without leaving a Will or you need legal advice about claims against estates. Take the case of John and Marjorie Scarle. The couple passed away at their family home without leaving Wills. It was not possible to say whether Mr or Mrs Scarle died first. Using 1925 legislation the high court ruled that, as Mrs Scarle was the youngest of the couple the presumption was that she died after Mr Scarle. That was important as it meant Mrs Scarle’s daughter from a previous relationship inherited the family home and other assets. Mr Scarle’s daughter inherited nothing. As she was Mrs Scarle’s stepdaughter, she did not inherit under intestacy rules. The stepdaughter reportedly faces paying a legal bill of about £150,000 to cover the costs of challenging the estate. You may think that the Scarle scenario would never happen in your family but in an age where cohabiting relationships are becomingly increasingly popular, in comparison to marriage , and family dynamics are complicated by the arrival of step children and quasi ‘’aunts and uncles’’ it has never been more important to consider getting a professionally written Will prepared. Often people think that they can prepare their own Will. After all, how difficult can it be? I guess that it is a bit like asking a Cheshire Wills and probate solicitor to carry out the service on their car or fit a new kitchen. I know that I am not capable of doing those jobs. Preparing a Will that covers your personal situation, reduces the potential for claims to be made against the estate, and minimises inheritance tax is money well spent in the long term. At Evolve Family Law we believe that whilst none of us want to think about why we need a Will, it is important to ask ‘’how much does it cost to make a Will’’ and to ensure that you get your Will professionally prepared by an experienced Cheshire Private Client solicitor. What every Wills and Probate solicitor will tell you is that everyone’s personal and financial circumstances are different. That is why it is so important that everyone takes advice, at a transparent cost they understand, so that their Will or lasting power of attorney meets their individual needs. If you need advice on the preparation of a Will or Power of Attorney or want to review an existing Will or Power of Attorney then please call Chris Strogen on +44 (0) 1477 464020 or email Chris at
Chris Strogen
  ·   3 minute read
Can you do probate without a solicitor?

Can you do probate without a solicitor?

The short answer is yes, you can. Whether you would really want to do it, if you knew what was involved, is a completely different matter. Thinking that you can do probate is a bit like a solicitor thinking that they can do their tax return without any input from an accountant. They may be able to file their tax return by the 31st of January and even answer queries with HMRC, but ask them if they would do it again next year and the majority would give an emphatic no. Online probate application system The good news for people appointed as executors of a Will is that the court service has announced an online probate application system for us if: The deceased died with a Will ; and The deceased was a permanent resident in England or Wales; and The Will appointed up to four executors; and The executors have the original Will. The online probate system allows the executors to start the probate application process online by applying, paying and submitting the probate application. However, after the application is submitted online further enquiries and progressing the administration of the estate is dealt with offline, by traditional post and phone. Can you do probate without a solicitor? I guess, for me, the question is not whether you can do Probate without a solicitor but whether you should do it. I am not saying that because I am a solicitor who specialised in Wills, tax and probate but because I do not believe that if you appoint a loved one as an executor the last thing that they need at a time of bereavement is the stress and worry of sorting out the probate of a friend or relative. What is more, if you are an executor, and you get things wrong, you are personally liable for your mistakes. Many people may think that is unfair as after all the executor was only trying to save the estate money by doing the work themselves, but if it goes wrong it will be the executor, rather than the estate or beneficiaries, who will end up paying for the error. You may think, 'what could possible go wrong with a bit of paperwork?'; it is not until you have sat down and started to fill in a tax return or a probate application that you realise just how complicated it can get. With probate applications, executors can run the risk of: Failing to pay the right amount of estate tax; or Not paying a debt that was due before distributing the money from the estate; or Failing to pay the right amount of estate tax or; Not paying a debt that was due before distributing the money from the estate; or Paying a residuary beneficiary too much for the estate; or Facing complaints by a residuary beneficiary, such as a charity, that the money raised should have been more, as the sale of property or other assets was not handled; or Facing someone challenging the Will because they say it was not drawn up correctly, was signed under duress, was signed when the deceased did not have capacity to sign a Will, or because the Will did not make adequate provision for them. Taking probate legal advice The best advice for anyone thinking about dealing with probate without help from a specialist probate solicitor is to get advice on whether they think it is OK to try. A good probate solicitor will tell you if probate is even needed and, if it is, whether there are warning signs to suggest that you will need expert help such as if: The deceased owned his own business, either as a partner in a firm or company director; or The deceased has left all or part of his estate to charity; or The estate has complicated assets in it, such as buy to let property portfolio; or The deceased has left his estate to minor children and there are trusts involved or; The deceased has a complicated personal life, perhaps with a former spouse or new partner, and there is a risk that the Will may be challenged on the basis that it does not contain adequate financial provision; or The deceased has a complicated financial life with lots of debts that will need to be sorted out before the estate is distributed; or You know that there is a risk that you will find the process of acting as an executor and handling the probate yourself too distressing during a time of bereavement or you think there risk a risk that you will fall out with sibling executors unless a professional handles the probate reports to all family executors. If you need help in deciding whether or not to handle a probate then give us a call to discuss the estate and your options. IF the estate is small, you may not need probate. If you do need probate and you are the major beneficiary of the estate, you may think it worthwhile to try and use the new online service. We are happy to help you make that decision based on what is right for you. If you do decide to ask us to deal with the estate then we can handle it entirely so there is no stress or can work as a team with you.  
Robin Charrot
May 04, 2019   ·   5 minute read