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Wills & Probate

 

A Wills & Probate Solicitor is a qualified and experienced legal professional who provides services to individuals and families concerning estate planning and the administration of an estate following a person’s death.

When you lose someone close to you, and one of life’s most challenging events unfolds, the support and expertise we at Lanyon Bowdler can offer will be of both comfort and assistance.

Our Wills & Probate Solicitors are vastly experienced; you will find our expertise of great strength when you need it most. Our approach to your affairs will be warm, personalised and compassionate.

Why do I need a Will?

A Will is the best way of ensuring that your partner and children will be provided for in the event of your death.

Writing a Will may be something which is easy to put off, yet it is one of the most important things you can do. So, do not procrastinate any longer: contact one of Lanyon Bowdler’s friendly and approachable lawyers, and let us help you to make sure your savings and assets go to the right people.

Whatever your age, wealth or marital status, writing a Will is of incredible importance. People often assume that their partner, children or grandchildren will automatically inherit their estate when they die, but it is seldom that simple.

The situation may become more complicated if there has been a divorce in the family, and if you are not married or in a registered civil partnership, your partner may end up with nothing. Making a Will protects your wishes and avoids disputes in the future.
Writing a Will is also an important part of inheritance tax planning, helping to ensure that you do not pay more inheritance tax than is necessary.

The main things that should be included in your Will are:

  • who you would like to receive your money and assets, and how they will be divided between the relevant people
  • who should take care of your children (if they are under the age of 18)
  • who you want to be in charge of handling your estate and carrying out your wishes after your death (your executor)
  • and what would happen should the people you have named as beneficiaries in your Will die before you

We are experts in our field and will guide you through the whole process from beginning to end.   Based in our local offices, we have expert wills and probate solicitors in Hereford, Oswestry, Shrewsbury, Telford, Bromyard and Ludlow.

Making a Will and Children    

A signficant concern when making a Will is not only providing for a partner or spouse, but also provision for one’s children.

Family relationships are often much more complex than they might have been in the past, with extended families and second, third or fourth marriages increasingly common.

Making a Will to provide for children might include providing for:

  • Children from a previous relationship
  • Children with a current spouse or partner
  • Adopted children
  • Step-children
  • Grandchildren
  • Children who are the subject of guardianship
  • Nieces and nephews

It is very important to get legal advice when making a Will to provide for children; disagreements are becoming increasingly common, especially when there are children involved from more than one relationship.

It may not necessarily be children who dispute a Will; in some instances former spouses, registered civil partners or partners who have brought up the deceased’s children may contest a Will.

We understand that this information is complicated and potentially overwhelming. Please get in touch with us and we can explain what needs to be done.

What if I have young children?       

You can also include your children as beneficiaries in your Will even if they are very young. In this situation it is a good idea to think about what age you would like your children to reach before being able to access their inheritance. Whilst the child is under that age the inheritance can be managed by Trustees – who can be appointed in your Will.

It is a good idea to keep on top of your Will and review it regularly. We know and appreciate that things can change quickly. If you need any advice on this matter please do get in touch.

Unmarried Couples / Couples not in a Registered Civil Partnership

In contrast to what many believe, the ‘common law’ does not exist as such, irrespective of the length of time a couple has been together and even if they have children.

If you are unmarried and pass away without a Will in place, your partner will receive nothing; your estate will go to your blood relatives.

You may think that, if you die, you can trust your family to pass on that which you owned to your partner and children. However, not making the necessary provisions may be costly to your loved ones when you are gone.

Similarly, if apartner who is not married or in Registered Civil Partnership were to die, all his/her estate and property would go to their children (in a trust if under 18 and this trust would not benefit the surviving partner).

Hence the importance of a Will; it informs the relevant people what assets and monies should go to whom, and reduces the possibility of mistakes.

What happens if you don't make a Will?     

If you die without a Will, your estate will pass automatically under the Intestacy Rules. This process is known as dying ‘intestate’ – and may not always result in the outcome you want for your loved ones.

The laws of intestacy give priority to your closest relative, with spouses coming first in line, followed by children, parents and siblings. This may appear to make sense; however, modern families are becoming increasingly complex. These laws can create problems and heartache.

For example, if you live with your partner but did not marry or enter into a registered civil partnership, under the intestacy laws your property would be left to your closest relatives according to the order above. Your partner may be left with nowhere to live.

Contesting a Will     

Wills may sometimes cause disagreements among family members and extended family. In some instances, it may be necessary to contest a Will.

For example:

  • the partner of the deceased / a family member feels that they have been left out of a Will unfairly
  • a person feels he / she has not received a fair proportion of the estate
  • the Will does not take into account a person’s entitlement
  • the deceased made their Will under pressure from another party

It may also be that some family members feel that the deceased was not aware of the implications of their Will.

Contesting a Will can have long lasting consequences within the family. At Lanyon Bowdler we offer services covering probate, litigation and family law. Our specialist lawyers can offer clear advice on the different aspects of contesting a Will.

Probate

Whereas a Will is a legal document that sets out the wishes of the deceased, probate is the process of executing the Will according to those wishes. It involves organising the distribution of money and assets – after paying debts and inheritance tax where necessary.

It will not be possible legally to transfer the deceased person's finances and property to the beneficiaries until you obtain Grant of Probate. In short, the beneficiaries will not be able to inherit what had been intended for them.

If the person who died owned the property, shares or money jointly, probate may not be required.

Every situation is unique. Everyone deserves carefully delivered advice tailored to their own set of circumstances.

What is Grant of Probate?

This is the name of the document issued to you by the Probate Registry. It confirms your right to administer the estate of the deceased. This includes cashing the assets of the estate and distributing them as detailed in the Will.

Do I Need Probate?

When someone dies, you will have to find out if probate is needed to deal with their estate. Probate isn't necessary every time a person passes away; it depends on the value of the deceased’s assets and how their assets were held.

In England and Wales, probate is not usually required for small estates in which there is no property and only a small amount of money. If the estate contains property or land, it is not considered a small estate. An estate will certainly be considered small if its total value is less than £5,000, but the threshold is often higher. Banks and financial institutions have their own limit; you will need to check with each of the organisations holding the money. Probate will be needed if any assets are held in the deceased's sole name that are valued above the probate threshold.

What Happens if You Don’t Apply for Probate?

If you don’t obtain probate when someone dies, but probate is needed to administer their estate, beneficiaries will not be able to receive their inheritance. The assets of the deceased will be frozen and held in a state of limbo, as no one will have the legal authority to access, sell or transfer the assets.

Intestacy – Dying without a Will

Handling an estate which has no Will usually involves a family member acting as the personal representative of the deceased and administering the estate.        

The personal representative applies to the court for a Grant of Representation, to enable him to administer the estate.

If there is no Will, the Rules of Intestacy will determine the distribution of an estate and who is entitled to claim from it.

The personal representative can appoint a professional, such as a solicitor, to deal with the estate’s administration.

Intestacy involves an unfamiliar legal processes, with potential financial complications and a great deal of worry and stress – especially without professional help from a probate solicitor. Seeking help at an early stage can speed up the process and make sure that the probate process goes smoothly, at a time already difficult enough for families.

Estate Administration

There are five basic stages to the estate administration process; these include: ascertaining the nature and extent of assets, valuing assets, applying for probate, distributing the bequests in the Will and drawing up accounts detailing how the estate was distributed. These are then sent on to the beneficiaries.

If a beneficiary contests a Will, this can delay probate. Sensitive probate matters can become contentious and stressful – and then result in the delay of the administration of an estate.

The Rules of Intestacy          

When someone dies without a valid Will there are strict inheritance laws in place. These are known as the Rules of Intestacy. They apply in England and Wales.

The Rules of Intestacy can be quite harsh as they do not often bear in mind modern family relationships. For example, no provisions are made for unmarried and unregistered partners. This means that the surviving partner will not automatically inherit any part of the estate that was owned in the sole name of the deceased.

Despite this, a partner can often make a valid inheritance claim. Alternatively, the family can (in certain cirucmstances, if they agree to) legally vary the distribution on intestacy in order to provide for the partner.

The Rules of Intestacy only recognise natural and adopted children for the purpose of inheritance; step-children are not acknowledged. In spite of this, in many cases step-children have a valid claim.

You can see that situations may quickly become complex. The best way to make it clear who should inherit your property and possessions after you die is by making a Will.

What is a Grant of Letters of Administration?

A Grant of Letters of Administration is the required legal document when dealing with the estate of someone who has died without a Will.

In this situation, one of the deceased’s relatives will need to go through the probate and estate administration process. This person is known as the ‘administrator’. Executors and Administrators are known generically as Personal Representatives.

If you’re the administrator, one of the first things you’ll be required to do is obtain a Grant of Letters of Administration. This is a document issued by the Probate Registry and gives you the legal authority to deal with the estate.

If you are unsure about anything you have read, please contact us for advice. We offer a warm and professional service at this difficult time.

Legal 500 & Chambers UK Recommendations

The Wills, Trusts and Administration of Estates team is recognised in Tier Two for the West Midlands in the 2020 edition of The Legal 500, stating "Lanyon Bowdler's team has significant experience of advising on trusts, estate/tax planning and administration, as well as powers of attorney and contentious trust matters."

The team is also listed in Band 1 in the 2020 edition of Chambers UK's High Net Worth Directory.

The 2019 edition of Chambers UK's High Net Worth Guide states: Lanyon Bowdler is a "very well-established, well-known Shropshire firm," says a market insider, adding that this "full-service firm is recognised in Shrewsbury in many practice areas." The private client team advises clients on Wills, trusts and the administration of estates, and is considered to be "very strong on Court of Protection work."

A source praises the team for being "responsive, client-focused and solution-oriented," while another states: "They are very professional and very knowledgeable within their specific areas of expertise. They have superb attention to detail, making them very thorough in the work they do."

Contact Our Wills and Probate Solicitors

Our specialist Wills and Probate Solicitors represent clients in Shropshire, Herefordshire, Mid and North Wales, Cheshire and Staffordshire, as well as across the Midlands.

Lanyon Bowdler have offices with expert teams of lawyers in Hereford, BromyardShrewsburyLudlowOswestryTelford, and Conwy in North Wales.

For more information, please get in touch with the team or call the general enquiries number located at the top of the page.

We are one of the most recognised law firms in Shropshire, Herefordshire, Mid and North Wales, Birmingham and the Midlands. We offer a wide range of pricing options including fixed fees and service level guarantees.

As a leading national law firm, we regularly handle Wills and probate for clients across the country. We can represent you wherever you reside in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

 

Testimonials

I was made to feel at ease and nothing was ever too much bother. Communication was good and clear . A very friendly approach. 

- Mrs Jacqueline Anne Free, Telford

 Have always provided a very professional service. 

- Mr Richard Hartland Pinchin & Mrs Margaret Rose Pinchin, Ludlow

From entering reception I was well looked after and offered drinks. I waited no longer than five minutes to see the solicitor who explained the procedure to me thoroughly. Any questions I had were answered to my satisfication. I found the whole procedure very professional and would definitely recommend them. 

- Mr Joseph Michael Foster, Telford

We would like to offer our sincere gratitude for the kindness, understanding and professionalism you have given during this very difficult time. We would not hesitate to recommend the services of Lanyon Bowdler.

- Ms H Gardiner, Herefordshire

Helpful and courteous. Took time to explain complex issues.

- Mr J Barrett & Mrs W Barrett, Oswestry

The team were easy to talk to and explained everything clearly

- Mr Price, Hereford

You do what you say you are going to do within an estimated timescale.

- Mrs Lewis, Bromyard

The one to one connection with Mrs Julie Langford. Always very professional whilst extremely friendly, putting us at ease. 

- Mrs Maureen Angela Thomas, Telford

Case Studies

Testate Case Study

Claire acted on a

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Nothing Left to Partner

Claire acted for a claimant whose partner died, leaving his entire estate to ...

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