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Wills, Trust & Probate Law

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When there is a death in the family, often the last thing people want to deal with are the legal matters. Unfortunately, dealing with a deceased’s estate is an important issue.

If the deceased had a will, then it is likely already to be with a solicitor. Drafting a will is a crucial process that everybody should do, and for most it is an extraordinarily simple procedure. Many simply wish to leave the majority of their estate to their next of kin, with perhaps a few items of personal significance passed to specific beneficiaries.

Of course, wills can be more complex documents, especially if money is to be left in trust for young children. However this is something a solicitor can assist with and ensure that any will produced is valid. While people can (and do) write their own will, there is always the danger it is either ineffective or open to challenge.

Aside from the solicitor, one person (sometimes more) will be named by the deceased as being the executor. It will be their job to ensure the will is followed, and that any debts or liabilities that have accrued following death are paid out of the estate. These can include any outstanding mortgage on the deceased’s property, as well as the funeral expenses themselves.

If no will has been drafted - or the will has been ruled as ineffective or challenged - then the deceased is said to have died intestate. This can be a rather complex matter with its own set of rules. In broad terms, the majority of the estate would pass to the immediate family, with various percentages going to children and spouses.

Another function the executor is required to deal with is inheritance tax. Much like income tax, there is a tax free allowance of £325,000 for the 2015-2016 period. Any of the deceased’s estate that is over the limit - after deducting the debts and expenses outlined above - will be subject to a flat rate of 40%. However married couples or civil partners can leave their assets to each other tax free - and the surviving partner can usually combine both allowances to create a tax free bubble of £650,000.

There are various methods to help reduce inheritance tax that your solicitor can advise on. These include gifts to UK charities and trusts, items passed to others more than seven years before death, and an extra yearly allowance of £3,000 known as the annual exemption. Once the total inheritance tax due has been calculated, this sum is then deducted from the deceased’s estate.

The cost of drafting a will is often very inexpensive, with many law firms offering a fixed fee of a few hundred pounds. Obviously the more complex the will, the more time required to draft it, but normally it is an affordable process that can prevent problems later on when they can be hardest to deal with. Using ReviewSolicitors, you can find the right solicitor for your legal issue.

Still have questions? Why not ask them below or search for a solicitor at the top of this page.

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