Wills

Making a will – our service

The importance of seeking full and proper legal advice when creating a will cannot be underestimated. Many people wrongly assume solicitors are the expensive option and create homemade wills or turn to a will writer.

Will writers often use high pressure sales tactics such as door stepping and offering discounted wills to elderly people. By using a will writer you could be putting yourself and your family at risk as many do not have specialist qualifications. Most are not properly regulated and are often not insured should things go wrong. Care must be taken in respect of hidden charges as it has been known that wills are sold at a discount price but then costs mount up for hidden extras such as storage, fees for home visits and acting as executor.

Unfortunately problems with poorly prepared wills do not become apparent until it is too late. By this time it may be difficult to trace a will writer or they may have gone out of business. The last thing a family need when they have lost a loved one is a problematic will and complicated procedures to rectify the problem. Solicitors are aware of the need to keep thorough notes should wills be contested. Livingstons have come across wills drafted by will writers that have left entire estates to siblings where the instructions were to leave the estate to children and wills containing completely unnecessary convoluted trusts where the costs of preparing them were astronomical.

Care must be taken with homemade wills too. There are stringent rules about witnessing wills and if these are not adhered to your will may be invalid. Again in the case of a dispute there would be no record of your intentions and no evidence of your capacity and instructions.

Livingstons offer a friendly service with peace of mind that your instructions are properly recorded in the case of a dispute. We are specialised in the area and will advise you of the best will to make in your circumstances. We also offer expert advice on Inheritance Tax and potential claims against your estate. We offer free home visits and free will storage. We offer a competitive fixed fee and you can be rest assured that there will be no hidden costs and that you are receiving a thorough and specialised service. If you would like a no obligation quote call us or make an appointment to discuss your circumstances.

 

Lasting Power of Attorney

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document which allows you to appoint someone (‘an attorney’) you trust to manage your affairs and make decisions on your behalf. Attorneys can make decisions for you when you no longer wish or when you lack the mental capacity to do so. This can include paying bills, collecting income, selling property and managing investments subject to any conditions or restrictions you choose to include.

If you have not made a Lasting Power of Attorney, in the event of becoming incapable, an application must be made through the Court by someone (who may not be the person you would have chosen) for an order allowing them to manage your affairs. This process can be lengthy and expensive.

If you wish to make a Lasting Power of Attorney please call (01229) 585555 to discuss your requirements.

 

Inheritance tax

Few people intentionally leave money to the tax man. We can steer you through the intricacies of inheritance tax, helping you minimise the effects, and explaining the various exemptions and reliefs.

 

Leaving money to charity

Some people want any money ‘left over’ to go to charity. It is essential to be very specific about this in your Will or your intentions may not be carried out. (Leaving a sum to charity can also minimise tax liability.)

 

Everyone’s circumstances can change

You should make a Will every time your situation changes; if you get married, if you become a home owner, if you inherit money, or if your relationship breaks up. If you have already made a Will it is worth reviewing it with us every few years.

 

Executorship – our service

Your executor is the person who takes charge of administering your estate after death. It is important to specify in your Will who your executor is to prevent delays in money being released to your family at what may be a difficult time for them.

You may think you are not wealthy enough to make a Will. But if you stop to add up the value of your house, car, shares and insurance policies – the total is probably more than you realised.

A Will is particularly important for anyone with children, especially if you are a separated or an unmarried parent. A Will is also necessary for anyone wanting to make provision for those other than their immediate family and for anyone concerned about tax consequences after death.

In certain cases, intestacy may not be a problem for those you leave behind. But all too often, leaving no Will could create yet another worry for your family at a time of bereavement. Making a Will is a way of making life easier for them.

We can draw up your Will and one or more of our Directors can act as your executor if you so wish. Banks also advertise their executor services, which may be appropriate in some circumstances – but bank charges for acting as executor are high and are not open to challenge or independent assessment in the same way as solicitors’ fees.

Coronavirus

Our employment team has received (and continues to receive) a large number of requests for help from companies who would like assistance with interpreting the ongoing changes to the furlough scheme and/or who are advance planning for when the furlough scheme comes to an end.  Some of this planning may involve consideration of short-time working or even redundancies and some involves dealing with specific concerns that returning employees may have about health and safety or about childcare and other obligations.

We have produced a number of factsheets for our employer clients which explain the Government guidance and which provide some practical guidance on how to deal with some of these matters.

If you have any specific queries about ending your furlough scheme or need any assistance with restructuring your business in light of the ongoing economic difficulties caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, please e-mail Steve Walker at s.walker@livingstons.co.uk or Gail Black at g.black@livingstons.co.uk.

Full details of how we are dealing with Coronavirus are available here.

We will do everything possible to keep disruption to a minimum during this difficult time.