Tag Archive: probate

  1. Still Not Written Your Will? Your Estate Could Go to the Crown

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    Writing a Will is often an activity that many put off, either avoiding the fees involved or avoiding having to address the morbid practicalities of what should happen to your investments and estate once you’re gone.

    It’s not the easiest subject to address, however getting your Will written is one of the most important tasks you will carry out in your lifetime.

    Dying intestate (i.e. without a Will) can have huge repercussions on your loved ones.

    The only way to guarantee that your assets are left to those who matter most, and not taken into possession by the crown, is to write a will.

      

    What could happen to my assets if I don’t write a Will?

    DRN have done the research for you and pulled together a list of six possibilities that your family could encounter if you pass away intestate.

     

    It could lead to an unexpected tax bill

    The law allows you to leave at least the first £325,000 of your estate to your heirs tax-free. However, anything above this sum may be liable for inheritance tax, charged at a rate of 40%. This can be avoided if you leave everything to your spouse in a Will, in which case there would be no inheritance tax to pay.

     

    It could leave your spouse or partner worse off

    Anything you own jointly with your partner, including any property you own as joint tenants or any funds that are held in joint accounts, will automatically pass to the joint owner. This may or may not be your partner.

    The other assets of your estate will be dealt with under the intestacy rules and do not automatically pass to a partner.

    In England and Wales, the current law ensures that your spouse receives the first £250,000 and half of whatever exceeds this sum, with the remainder split between your children. If you do not have children, different rules apply.

     

    If you don’t have a Will, your estate could go to the Crown

    In most cases in the UK, if you don’t have family to pass your estate along to, it will fall into the possession of the Crown. If you reside in Cornwall or Lancashire and this is the case, the estate will pass to the Duchy, who in turn generally donates it to charity.

     

    You won’t be able to specify who should receive heirlooms and items of sentimental value

    There may be items of value, such as collectibles or family heirlooms, that you hold dear and would like to be passed along to the right people following your death – those you know will take good care of the items and see the value in them that you see. The only way to guarantee that these items end up in the right hands is to specify which items should be passed to whom in your Will.

    Simply promising certain items to particular children, friends and family members whilst you’re alive unfortunately isn’t enough, and if a Will is not written, again they will pass under the intestacy rules and may pass to your spouse. In cases of second and third marriages these items may have no value at all to the surviving spouse.

     

    Your stepchildren won’t receive anything

    You will need to outline your intentions for your step-children in your Will as, unless you have formally adopted them, even if you’ve raised a stepchild as your own, they will not receive anything of yours after you’ve passed under the rules of intestacy.

     

    Your assets could be inherited by a separated spouse

    Unless you are fully divorced, the law will see you as a spouse upon your death. This is the case even for those who have been separated for a number of years and have moved on to live with another partner. Without a divorce registered and a decree absolute obtained, your estranged spouse will be entitled to some or all of your estate if you do not have a Will.

     

    Choose DRN to help you with writing your Will

    If you’re seeking the peace of mind that your assets and financial affairs will be dealt with according to your preferences upon your death, making a Will or setting up a trust are amongst the best ways you can make sure your wishes are fulfilled.

    It’s never too early to put plans in place, and our team can provide practical, honest and informed advice on the various aspects involved when securing your loved ones’ futures.

    The professionals at DRN will always take the time to fully understand your needs and wishes, approaching your case with the individual attention that it deserves.

    Contact us today to find out how our expert Wills and probate team of solicitors can help to get your affairs in order.

  2. Top Tips for a Peaceful Retirement

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    After a lifetime of dedicating yourself to your loved ones, your career and your passions, retirement is the time you can finally reap the benefits of all of your hard work and properly experience the culmination of a lifetime of planning.

    However, the prospect of such a huge lifestyle change doesn’t spark excitement in all, and uncertainty about what the future might hold can be stressful. The best way to alleviate some of that confusion surrounding the future is to continue planning for it, and this includes making a will.

    As you’ve made sound choices to build and protect your savings and assets throughout your working life, it’s important to continue protecting those assets for your loved ones and yourself.

    The leading wills and probate lawyers from DRN’s branches in Burnley, Colne and Ramsbottom have provided some expert advice and compiled a short guide to help you plan the support for your family when you’re no longer around.

     

    Enlist the expert support of a wills and probate lawyer 

    Whilst it is possible to create a will yourself, the process can be complex and mistakes are fairly easy to make if you’ve never done it before. With many DIY wills, important information is often accidentally left out and, in a worst-case scenario, this can mean that your beneficiaries do not receive what you wish for them. They could even be made liable to pay for fees or taxes in your name.

    Working with a qualified solicitor when drafting your will give you coverage by the official Solicitors’ Regulation Authority. On top of securing your will, they will be able to offer you expert advice on a range of topics, including providing details on your inheritance tax allowance, enabling you to make informed decisions now to aid your loved ones in the future.

     

    Choose Executors and Powers of Attorney wisely 

    The executor of your will will be in charge of exercising your wishes and managing your assets after you’re gone. Selecting your executor is a big decision, and with them holding so much responsibility it’s important that you invest in someone you can trust. Before making your decision, it’s also a good idea to talk through your plans and ensure that they know what the role will entail.

    One of the most common myths surrounding legal decision-making is that your next of kin will be able to make decisions on your behalf should you lack the capacity to do so yourself. Sadly, this is not the case. No one person is able to act on your behalf unless they are legally authorised to do so, whether this is to do with your assets or your health.

    Making sure a Lasting Power of Attorney is in place as early as possible is the safest way to ensure your wishes are adhered to by people that you trust. It can take around 12 weeks for an LPA registration to be authorised, so it’s a good idea to get it secured as soon as possible to avoid facing stresses when the time comes to needing it.

     

    Review your decisions regularly

    It’s important to remember that the decisions outlined in your will aren’t set in stone – you are entitled to change your mind. Review your choices as often as you see fit, and don’t be afraid to speak up if some of those decisions shift and change.

    Having your will and executors secured before you reach retirement will give you peace of mind, allowing you to enjoy your time as a retiree as fully as possible. Whilst it’s often a difficult discussion, it’s important to have the conversation with family and loved ones about your wishes after death. Taking the time to think about how you can continue to protect those closest to you can make a big difference to their futures, and initiating that conversation is a necessary, but ultimately very positive, step.

     

    The will and probate team here at DRN have years of legal experience and are on-hand to guide you through the whole process of writing your will.

    Contact us today on 01282 433 241 to find out more about how we can ensure your wishes are met after you’re gone.

     

  3. DRN Probate Lawyers’ Top 5 Will Writing Tips

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    When it comes to writing your Will, you want to be absolutely certain that your wishes will be carried out. A watertight Will ensures that you have nothing to worry about once you pass away, and gives ultimate peace of mind that you will be able to take care of your family and loved ones even when you’re gone.

    Writing a Will can be confusing and a little overwhelming, but as expert Wills and Probate lawyers, we’re here to guide you through every stage of the process. With extensive expertise in completing Wills for a large number of clients over the years, we’re committed to learning about what’s important to you, and to ensuring all of your wishes are detailed and your Will meets legal requirements. 

    Here are our top 5 tips for writing your Will, to help you get the process started. 

     

    Tip 1: Don’t hesitate! 

    The best advice we can give to anyone considering writing a Will is to get started as soon as possible. While it can be a difficult or daunting prospect, making a Will with DRN is a simple and straightforward process. What’s more, once you’ve made your Will, you will no longer have to worry about what may happen to your estate or other assets after your death.

    The sooner you make your Will, the sooner you will have the peace of mind that comes with knowing your family, friends and loved ones will be able to carry out your wishes exactly as you planned.

    Tip 2: Enlist the expert support of a Wills and Probate lawyer.

    Whilst it might be tempting to attempt creating your own Will without the help of a solicitor, it’s important to note that it is easy to make a mistake when drafting your Will if you’re not completely familiar with the processes involved. Errors in your Will could lead to your beneficiaries missing out on receiving what you wish to gift to them, and errors can even reduce the value of your estate, as funds could need to be offset towards unexpected tax bills, or the cost dealing with a legal fallout from disgruntled beneficiaries. 

    Making your Will with a trusted legal professional means you’ll be covered by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority. A qualified solicitor will understand the intricate legalities and be able to offer in-depth tax advice, including details on your inheritance tax allowance, enabling you to make decisions now to aid your family and loved ones in the future.

    Check for the WIQS mark. WIQS is a recognised quality assurance scheme which awards the very best Wills and Probate lawyers with certificates and accreditations – an achievement which DRN have successfully reached year after year. 

    Tip 3: Choose who you want to leave your estate and assets to.

    A key fact to make note of is that your assets and estate will not automatically be passed to your partner, no matter how long you have been together.

    If you live with a partner but are not married, and have no Will in place, the law states that your assets will be passed to your nearest blood relatives. Making a Will ensures that your home, assets, investments and any other items in your estate pass to your partner if you wish them to do so.

    In addition, choosing not to make a Will means dying “intestate”. This means your assets will devolve according to intestacy rules and will be divided in strict order amongst blood relatives. In such circumstances, your assets could even pass into the hands of a blood relative you are no longer in contact with, or someone you might not even have met. 

    Tip 4: Remember to appoint guardians.

    In some Wills, details are given on the subjects of assets and estate, but guardianship can be overlooked, especially if you are in a family unit with more than one parent.

    While it isn’t pleasant to think about, your Will should consider the worst-case scenario, and provide a plan for if it should occur. Should you and your partner pass away, provisions must be made to ensure your children are cared for by those you know and trust. If a guardian is not appointed, one will be automatically appointed by the court.

    If you are in an unmarried partnership, it is important to place each other as guardians so that any children you have under the age of 18 are automatically legally placed in your partner’s care in the event of your death.

    Tip 5: Choose your executors wisely

    Choosing the executors of your Will is a big decision, and it is better to choose more than one in many cases. Your executors will be in charge of exercising your wishes and dealing with all aspects of your estate. It is important to talk through your plans and double check that the person you’d like to be your executor is willing to be. Be sure to explain what the role might entail, as it is a substantial responsibility to take on and you need to be absolutely sure the executors will have the ability to perform their duties and maximise the estate for your chosen beneficiaries.

    You should also confide in your executors the location of your Will. You should keep it safe, ideally with your solicitor. Whilst a safety deposit box may seem like the safest place to keep your Will, choosing to deposit it with your bank can cause complications, as banks are not legally allowed to grant access to a safety deposit box without the executor having probate, and probate cannot be granted without reviewing your Will! 

    Entrusting your Will into the safe hands of your solicitor is the best option. Most solicitors will also register your Will on the Certainty National Will register, which maintains a record of the location of your Will to prevent fraud or loss – a service offered by DRN to all clients, free of charge.

    If you’d like more advice on our Wills and Probate services, or if you’d like to speak to our lawyers about writing your Will, contact us today on 01282 433 241

  4. Do you collect loyalty points? Here’s how you can pass them on in your will.

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    When you’re planning how to manage your estate after you pass away, it’s unlikely that you’ll have even considered your loyalty points as valuable assets. After all, it’s estimated that as many as 93% of us are unaware that points can be passed on in our wills.

    In fact, data from Topcashback, one of the country’s biggest loyalty points and cashback websites, has shown that in Britain we accrue more than £5.7bn through loyalty schemes annually. That works out at around £122 per person over an average of five schemes, so if you save points for Tesco Clubcard, Nectar, Texaco Star Rewards, Boots Advantage and Avios, the points accumulated could really work out to be a valuable addition to your estate.

    Not all providers, however, allow you to bequeath your points. In some cases points are stated in the terms and conditions to belong to the company and not the collector. So, in some cases it may be wiser to use your points rather than risk losing them upon your death.

    Here are some of the providers who will allow you to pass on your points after you pass away:

    Boots Advantage

    Boots Advantage is one of the most popular loyalty points schemes in the country, and for good reason. Giving customers four points (worth 4p) for every pound spent, and regular double or triple points events, it’s one of the most generous loyalty schemes of its type.

    Can you pass on your Boots Advantage card points?

    To pass your points on to a beneficiary, simply contact Boots Advantage customer service: boots.customercare_team@boots.co.uk, or by calling 0345 124 4545.

    Tesco Clubcard

    Tesco Clubcard is the UK’s leading supermarket loyalty schemes. Awarding customers one point per £1 spent on shopping and £2 spent on fuel, they also award points for using their related banking and insurance services.

    Can you pass on your Tesco Clubcard points?

    Should you pass away, your points can be easily claimed by family members even if they haven’t notified Tesco in advance. All a potential beneficiary needs to do to avoid confusion is contact 0800 591 688 or 0330 123 1688, or email them through the Clubcard website with the card and personal details of members to hand.

    Nectar

    Whether you use your Nectar card for your supermarket shopping in Sainsbury’s, or you collect yours from one of 450 different retailers across the country, you’ll be collecting four points per £1, plus bonuses.

    Can you pass on your Nectar card points?

    Nectar have no restrictions on bequeathing your points to a family member or relative. Contact the Nectar customer services team on 0344 811 0811 to find out whether a death certificate will be needed – they operate on a case-by-case basis.

    Avios

    Collecting points for the flights, hotel stays and shopping you do online with Avios can reap great rewards through the British Airways Avios eStore. More and more customers are using the scheme for its generous points system and the benefits tied in with it.

    Can you pass on your Avios points?

    Although Avios state that passing on points after a death is dealt with on a case-by-case basis, the terms and conditions do state that Avios points are non-transferable.

    Which loyalty schemes don’t allow points to be transferred?

    You may be surprised to learn that two of the largest companies in the UK do not allow their loyalty points to be transferred in the event of a customer’s death.

    IKEA Family and Marks & Spencer Sparks are both generous loyalty schemes, but unfortunately they do not allow the points gathered to be shared.

    This means that unfortunately you cannot bequeath your points savings to a chosen individual at these stores – but the companies both say they are reviewing the terms and conditions.

    One last thing – if you’d like to speak to our expert wills and probate solicitors about any issues regarding what you may and may not be able to leave behind, we’d be happy to speak to you. Just give us a call on 01282 433 241 to discuss your options.

  5. Got a Pension? You Need an LPA.

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    Long retirements offer so much freedom, and longer lives are helping to contribute to the stretching out of our golden years in the UK. But where some retirees are reaping the rewards of wise investments and sound financial advice, many people are unsure of the best course of action when it comes to accessing their hard-earned pensions.

    Owing to the government’s many changes to the accessibility of our private pensions, there are many retirees who are looking to take out their money early to do the things they’ve always wanted to do. While this is an exciting proposition and what many people have hoped to plan once they’ve finished working, a report published by Zurich UK has stated that around 80% of retirees are potentially facing difficulties later in life due to failing to commit a Lasting Power of Attorney.

    This simple process ensures that your money remains safe and secure, should you be unable to make these important decisions yourself at any point in the future.

    While this is an uncomfortable discussion to have, it’s incredibly important and can ensure your financial security for the coming years, no matter how your situation changes.

     

    Drawdown over annuities

    The way people are drawing out their pensions has changed. Where once annuities were the favoured method of claiming a pension, individuals are now choosing the drawdown method.

    This essentially means that managing income comes down to the individual. When complex decisions need to be made, this will also be dependent on the individual, making having a Lasting Power of Attorney or LPA even more important.

     

    Why get an LPA now?

    Organising a Lasting Power of Attorney now helps to make sure you’re ready for anything the future could hold. Here are our top reasons to make sure you’re covered by an LPA as soon as you begin drawing your pension.

     

    You will secure yours and your family’s immediate future 

    By organising an LPA now, you’re putting safeguards in place that make sure your pension is secure and protected now and in the future.

    Most people with LPAs find this peace of mind is in itself a worthwhile investment. Don’t let planning for the future become a burden.

     

    Give yourself the power to make your own decisions

    Waiting until you need an LPA can make it harder to create an agreement that suits your complex needs. Your pension is your money – don’t leave it until you might require support in making these important plans.

     

    Open up your later-life conversation

    Talking about your later life can be a difficult conversation. Don’t avoid it. Provisions for your care and security in later-life are important to set now, so that everything can be implemented as simply as possible.

    Encouraging your family to enter into these conversations with you will also help them to prepare for the future, and enable them to understand your wishes better.

    If you’d like help with setting up your own LPA or would like to talk to our specialist Wills, Probate & LPA team today at 01282 433 241. Alternatively, you can send us an on-line enquiry at drnlaw.co.uk/contact and one of our team will be in touch shortly.

     

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