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Wills & Probate

Wills & Probate Lawyers in London

Nicola Waldman
Nicola Waldman
Partner
Ian Lane
Ian Lane
Consultant
Philippa Barton
Philippa Barton
Partner
James Berry
James Berry
Senior Associate
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Josephine Russen
Associate
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Katherine Brown
Trainee

Our specialist Wills and Probate team is made up of dedicated experts, led by Nicola Waldman. They'll work closely with you to achieve your wishes and ensure peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

Usually, a significant life event for people is the trigger for considering their will and what may happen to their estate after they pass. The thought of planning what may happen after your death can be a daunting one as there are quite complex issues to consider. However, in many cases it can beneficial to create a will at any time in your life, especially when you have a partner, children or dependents who you wish to pass your wealth on to.

Our wills & probate solicitors can help you protect your assets

The work we do

We work alongside you to structure your estate and the necessary legal documents in the most effective way. Our aim – to put you in the best position possible.

We’ll help you maximise the benefits of your estate to ensure you leave your financial worth to the people and causes that matter to you.

Our successful cases and satisfied clients showcase some of the work we’ve done assisting people in will drafting, contesting and estate administration.

When ill health or an injury occurs, people may not be able to deal with their own matters. In these instances, our solicitors can help with applying to the Court of Protection to ensure the best interests of the individual are maintained.

We’re experts at drawing up a lasting power of attorney before this happens, so you can nominate someone to look after your legal interests should you not have the capacity to do so in the future.

 

 

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What happens if you die without a will?

If you die without a valid will, your assets will go directly to your next of kin. This might be your spouse or civil partner, or a blood relative such as a parent, sibling or child. Who your assets go to if you pass away without a will, will depend on who survives you.

For example, if you’ve been in a long-term relationship but aren’t married, your partner won’t be your recognised next of kin and so won’t automatically inherit your estate. Children may also be accidentally disinherited if they aren’t blood relatives and you don’t have a will in place. Drawing up a will can be the best way to ensure your loved ones are the beneficiaries of your estate in the event of your passing.

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Wills & Probate advice

We’ll help you maximise your assets and help your loved ones get the most out of your estate when you pass away. Our Wills & Probate solicitors assist and support with a range of situations, including:

Drafting a Will

Making a will provides peace of mind for the future and states how your assets can be protected and delivered to your loved ones after you die. If you die without a will, your will is poorly drafted or is out of date, there is no guarantee your assets will pass to the people intended.

Lasting Power of Attorney

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document which sets out who will be able to make decisions on your behalf should you not be able to. Our specialist solicitors know how to draft up your LPA to ensure the correct powers are put in place.

Probate

When someone close to you dies, we understand how difficult it can be to handle all their legal and financial affairs while still coming to terms with your loss. Our solicitors are approachable and sympathetic and can guide you through the process, so you have one less worry on your mind.

 

Managing Inheritance Tax

We all experience pressures on our time alongside the need to protect hard-earned money, property and possessions. Every person we advise has their own unique set of circumstances, so we tailor your tax planning advice around your personal goals.

Establishing Trusts

Trusts can help protect your share of ownership in a property, put aside money for your grandchildren’s future or ensure your children inherit your estate. Whatever your needs, we will work closely with you to advise on the most suitable and cost-effective solution.

Contesting a Will

If you have concerns about the validity or terms of a will, we can help with contesting to ensure you receive your full legal entitlement. Our specialist wills team have decades of experience in resolving contesting disputes.

How to deal with the estate of someone who has died

Dealing with the estate of someone who has died is an emotional, and sometimes stressful, process. Our team know how to guide you through the process to make things as stress-free and straightforward as possible.

Our process for dealing with the estate of someone who has died includes:

 1. An initial meeting

We’ll send out a questionnaire in advance of the meeting explaining what documents we need. At the meeting, the process will be explained to you, timelines and the likely costs. We ask for all the information we’ll need for the probate application and advise on the terms of the will.

2. Arranging tax forms

We calculate the value of all assets and liabilities at the date of death. We then complete the Inheritance Tax (IHT) forms and claim all available exemptions. We can then arrange for the first payment of tax to be made from the estate assets.

3. Setting up a court application

We’ll send you a statement of truth to sign before passing this on to the court with the original will and receipt for Inheritance Tax, so that they can issue the grant.

 

4. Receiving the Grant of Probate

Once we have the grant, we can collect all the assets of the estate and sell any property. We’ll arrange for any balance of Inheritance Tax to be paid and pay off any debts. We then pay the legacies and ensure that final income tax returns are filed before dealing with any adjustments to the Inheritance Tax calculations.

5. The final steps

Once all matters have been dealt with, we provide the executors and final beneficiaries with detailed estate accounts and pay out the amounts due.

 

For an initial confidential discussion contact our specialist wills & probate solicitors on
or request a call back.

When should you update your will?

Ideally, you should look to update your will any time you experience significant life changes. This might include:

  • Getting married
  • Buying a property
  • A substantial increase in the value of your assets
  • Having children and grandchildren.

If we draft your will, we can store it on your behalf, making it easy for further changes to be made, if and when you need us to.

 

How do I get lasting power of attorney?

In order to get a lasting power of attorney you must be appointed by the person making the will. You will then be able to act in their stead. To appoint you, they must complete several application forms online or in paper form. We can assist you with getting registered with lasting power of attorney and completing the application process.

How much does it cost to write a will?

We’re usually able to offer a fixed fee which is dependent on your circumstances and the complexity of your estate. When you speak with one of our experts, they will discuss your personal circumstances and provide you with a free assessment and cost estimate.

We provide complete transparency throughout the legal process regarding our charges so, you’re always in control and there are no hidden surprises. We will work with you, wherever possible, to suit your needs and budget. 

Contact our specialist wills and probate solicitors today on
or request a call back.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need to make a will?

It’s estimated that two thirds of the UK population haven’t made a will. Our Wills & Probate solicitors unfortunately see many examples of what can go wrong when someone dies without a valid will.

If there’s no will, fixed rules apply as to who will inherit, in what proportions and when. This can lead to various problems at an already difficult time, including:

  1. Your spouse may only inherit part of your estate if you have children.
  2. If you’re not married, your partner will not inherit at all.
  3. If you’re in a second marriage, the children from your first marriage may lose some of their intended inheritance.
  4. Your estate may pass to family members that you don’t wish to inherit.

The advantages of making a will include:

  1. You can choose who will act as executor.
  2. You choose who will be guardian and trustee for your children.
  3. You can obtain advice about Inheritance Tax planning.
  4. You can leave legacies to charities, friends and family members.
  5. You will ensure that your estate passes to the right people.
  6. If you are in a second marriage, you can provide for your spouse and ensure that your estate passes to children from an earlier marriage on their death.

I've been left out of a loved one’s will – is there anything I can do?

If you fall into any one or more of the following categories, you can make a claim against an estate:

  • Spouse
  • Former spouse (provided they have not subsequently remarried)
  • Children of the deceased
  • Children of the deceased’s spouse
  • Any person being maintained, either wholly or partly, by the deceased immediately before their death.
  • Any person living in the same household as the deceased for two years immediately before the death, as their spouse.
  • All references to a spouse also include a civil partner.

If you’re within any of these categories, then up to six months from the date that probate is granted, you can bring a claim for financial provision. That is not to say that you would be successful, merely that you fall within the category of people who could bring a claim.

The court will consider a variety of factors, including:

  • Your financial needs and resources
  • The financial needs and resources of any other applicant
  • The financial needs and resources of any existing beneficiary
  • The obligations and responsibilities which the deceased had towards everyone
  • The size and nature of the estate.

It’s worth bearing in mind that while financially independent adult children have brought successful claims in the past, if there’s no ongoing financial relationship between you, the fact that they were your parent does not necessarily mean the court will make an award in your favour.

What is the difference between a living will and an ordinary will?

A “Living Will” refers to either an advanced statement or an advanced decision or directive.

An advance statement is a general statement of your wishes and views, generally relating to healthcare matters, to be considered if you become unable to decide or communicate your wishes. It is not legally binding but must be considered by those looking after you when they decide what is in your best interests.

An advance directive is a decision made now, to refuse all or some forms of medical treatment if you lose the ability to decide for yourself in the future. This includes instances where a lack of treatment could lead to your death. It can only be a refusal of treatment and cannot be used to request treatment. An advance directive is legally binding, provided it meets the requirements of the Mental Capacity Act.

An ordinary will would generally deal with the disposal of your property and finances on your death and does not deal with healthcare issues. It can also deal with the appointment of guardians for infant children and appoint executors, who deal with the administration of your estate.

When should I review or update my will?

Several life events may require you to update or review your will. For example:

  • Marriage automatically revokes a will, and so if you get married or remarried, that would be a time to make a new will.
  • If you separate from your partner or get a divorce and had made provision for them in your will, that would be a time to update your will.

Unlike marriage or remarriage, divorce does not revoke a will. All references to the spouse would be treated as if they had died before you. So, at the very least, this could create an intestacy or partial intestacy.

Other times when we would advise you to review or update your will include:

  • Buying a new property
  • Starting a family
  • Inheriting money, land or property
  • The acquisition of business interest.

You may also need to update your will if:

  • A beneficiary named in your will dies
  • The law has changed in such a way that would affect the terms of your will.

Regardless of life events, we recommend that you review your will at least every five years to make sure that it still reflects your wishes.

Why should you explain your will to your family?

This is not a requirement but can be useful, particularly if you are making unusual provisions or perhaps provisions that might not be anticipated by your family. It may be just as well to explain it to them in advance, to try and avoid a situation where it could come as a big shock to them and cause a fall out after your death.

If they understand why you are doing it in that way, it may help to iron out any difficulties now and avoid a possible fall out or worse still, litigation, after your death. This may be particularly relevant in situations where there is a second family or where you are dividing a family business unequally.

I have two children: a seven-year-old and a twelve-year-old. I am currently thinking about making a will and would like to leave my property to my children. Are they too young to inherit directly?

Since both your children are under 18 they won’t be able to inherit directly. But this doesn’t mean they can’t benefit under your will. Your solicitor will be able to help you arrange for their inheritance to be held in trust for them until they are older. Meanwhile, you can ensure that your children don’t lose out by allowing the trustees you nominate to use the income and/or capital for your children’s benefit, such as to pay school or university fees on their behalf.

My partner and I live together but aren’t married. He has children from a previous relationship but has promised that I would inherit the house when he dies. I’m on the deeds of the house so is it really necessary for him to make a formal will?

You should both make a will as soon as possible. Whether or not you automatically inherit your partner’s share of the house depends on whether you own it as Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common. If your ownership is as Tenants in Common your partner’s share of the property will pass to his children, as will his other possessions. If you were married then you would inherit the first £270,000 of your partner’s estate and half the remainder. You should both talk to a specialist solicitor about making a valid will and also about how you may be able to avoid paying unnecessary inheritance tax.

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