Will Writing and Probate

Will writing

You do not have to make a will by law. However if you do so, your property, possessions and cash are distributed after your death in the way that you want rather than according to the law. It can cause your family distress and confusion if you leave no instructions. It can lead to the payment of costly estate duties that could be avoided with the writing of a will.

It is important to write a will when your circumstances change: having a baby, buying a property with someone, when getting married, when someone dies, when grandchildren are born, or when getting divorced. All of these changes can mean that making a will is necessary.

The cost of writing a will can vary and will depend on how complicated your affairs are. Having all the information to hand can speed up the process and cut costs. It is important to estimate how much money and property you have and who you want to benefit from your will. If you have children under the age of 18, think about who should look after them if you die. Decide who will be your executor: the person who sorts out your estate after your death and ensures that your wishes are carried out. This can be a friend or family member or a solicitor.

Codicils

The definition of a codicil is “a testamentary document which is an addition to a will”: it is used when adding extra words, removing a clause and adding a clause, for example when increasing or decreasing the size of a gift. Hudgell & Partners offer a fixed fee charge for amending wills originally drawn up for clients.

Storage of wills

Hudgell & Partners provide a will storage service for clients as part of the probate service provided.

Probate and administration of estates

When someone dies leaving a will their estate will normally go to probate. Probate is the means of proving the will and is the responsibility of the executor. When someone dies without leaving a will an administrator must be appointed to administer the estate of the person who has died. The Administrator will apply for “Letters of Administration”.

What is “probate”?

Probate is literally the process by which a Court proves the will of a deceased person thereby allowing the executor named in the will to sign any document that the deceased could have signed whilst the deceased was alive. The Order granted by the Court is called a “Grant of Probate”. If someone dies without leaving a will, the next of kin apply for a “Grant of Letters of Administration” which is the equivalent Order where the deceased has not made a will. Again the Grant of Letters of Administration allows the appointed next of kin to sign any documents that the deceased could have signed whilst the deceased was alive.

What is “administration of estates”?

This is a process by which the executor or administrator collects together the deceased’s paperwork, applies to the Court for a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration. Thereafter they collect in the money and property into the deceased’s estate, pay any debts and distribute the estate amongst the relevant beneficiaries. They will also finalise the deceased’s income tax affairs and pay where necessary any inheritance tax due.

Deeds of Variation

Sometimes the deceased’s will might not make adequate or appropriate provision for the next of kin. In this instance, the family will often get together and agree to distribute the estate in a way that is different from the provisions in the will. Occasionally, it may be tax efficient to agree to distribute the estate in a different way. In both cases, Hudgell & Partners can assist with the preparing of a “Deed of Variation”.

A Deed of Variation is a legal document signed by the executors or administrators of an estate and also signed by the residuary beneficiaries of an estate. The document sets out firstly how the estate would have been divided under the will or the rules of intestacy, and then secondly sets out how the family have agreed to change this and gives details of the way in which the will or rules of intestacy would be varied and the new division of the assets of the deceased. We can assist with regard to the preparation of Deeds of Variation and will normally do this on a fixed fee basis.

Hudgell & Partners can assist with the process of applying for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration and can also assist with the administration of the estate. It is always worth seeking advice in relation to such matters as there can often be either an immediate liability to tax or a future liability if the matter is not dealt with properly.

Request a Will Questionnaire ahead of a meeting to collect up the necessary information regarding making your will to save time and clarify your wishes.

What will Probate cost?

The cost of dealing with the administration of an estate varies according to a variety of factors such as:

Is there a valid will?

Did the deceased own any property?

How many different investments did the deased have?

Are there any assets abroad?

Are there any shareholdings?

How many beneficiaries are there?

Are there many liabilities to settle?

Is inheritance tax payable?

We charge by the hour for dealing with probate matters. The current hourly rate is £300 including VAT. An estimate of the likely cost is given when we know the deatails of the deceased's assets and liabilities and the number of beneficiaries involved. The court fee on 1st April 2019 is £155 but is due to rise soon.  See this article.

Fixed fee Probate

We are able to offer a fixed fee service for obtaining a grant of probate on the basis that our service is limited to applying to the court for the grant of probate and nothing else. We will not deal with the administration of the estate or any tax matters when offering this service. This service is conditional on:

1 The estate does not exceed £1,000,000 where the spouse or charity exemption applies, and

2 The estate does not exceed the nil rate band except where the spouse/civil partner or charity exemption applies or transfer of unused nil rate band applies.

Our fixed fee price for just obtaining the grant of probate is £900.00 including VAT plus the court fee for issuing the grant. The court fee on 1st April 2019 is £155 but is due to rise soon.  See this article.