Private Client

Our team of experts can advise on all aspects of estates, whether it is completing a Will or Lasting Power of Attorney, setting up a trust, or sorting out a person’s affairs after they have passed away. We also can assist when a dispute arises as to the distribution of a person’s estate.

Wills

Whether your affairs are simple or complex, we are able to advise you on the options available to you when preparing your Will.

The private client team here at GoodyBurrett LLP can help you prepare a Will which will take into account your personal circumstances and requirements which may include inheritance tax planning.

Before you come to see us you should consider who you will appoint as executor(s), whether guardians will be required for your children, and who they will be, what kind of funeral you would like and whether you would like to leave specific items to certain people.

Trusts

Trusts have been used for centuries and are a useful way for a person (Settlor) to provide for someone else without giving that person complete control of the asset.

Trusts can be set up during your lifetime or on your death in your Will. The Trust Deed sets out who the Settlor is entrusting to look after the asset (The Trustees) and who are the beneficiaries. It also sets out the terms of the trust, for example, the purpose of it, how long it is to last and how it is to be operated.

There are many different types of trust to suit a number of circumstances and they can be tailor made depending on your own requirements. They are normally quite fact specific so it’s best to call up to book an appointment if you think this is something you want to do.

Grant of Probate /Letters of Administration

Our team is experienced in dealing with small or large estates including business assets, farmland and foreign assets.

When a person dies and they have left a Will, within that Will they will have appointed one or more Executors who will sort out their affairs.

If a person has died without leaving a Will, then it will be necessary for a person to be appointed to be their Administrator who will sort out their affairs. It can be a very stressful and difficult time for people and our Probate team here are experienced in dealing with this type of matter and endeavour to take some of the burden from the Executors and family, giving advice and help where needed.

Intestacy

Dying intestate (without a Will) causes additional stress at a difficult time for families.

We advise that everyone completes a Will to ensure that their wishes are set out expressly and that a Will is reviewed every four to five years or when there is a change to personal circumstances.

However, when a person dies without having made a Will or with a Will that is invalid, they are said to have died intestate.

Sometimes there is a Will but unfortunately it does not properly dispose of all of that person’s property and that part of the estate is dealt with under the intestacy laws. This can happen sometimes, when people make their own Wills and don’t use appropriate wording to ensure everything is dealt with.

If you find yourself dealing with an estate without a valid will or without one al all, get in touch and we will help you move forward.

Court of Protection

The Court of Protection deals with applications where an individual lacks the mental capacity to manage their finances, property and personal affairs.

If an individual is struggling to make decisions regarding their finances or health and welfare then an application can be made to the Court of Protection to assess whether or not that person is capable of making decisions. If the Court deems that the individual lacks the mental capacity to manage their affairs, a nominated person or persons (a Deputy) will be appointed by the Court to make those decisions, or the Court will make those decisions itself.

In cases where an individual who has sufficient mental capacity wishes to nominate an ‘Attorney(s)’ to deal with their finances and property, and/or make any decisions regarding their health and welfare should it be necessary in the future, a legal document known as a Lasting Power of Attorney can be completed and sent to the Office of the Public Guardian (which deals with the administration of the Court of Protection) for approval and registration if approved.

Any disputes or concerns regarding Deputyship Orders or Lasting Power of Attorney documents can be dealt with by the Court of Protection.

The Court of Protection makes orders and decisions in accordance with the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The Act provides the definition of a person who ‘lacks capacity’ and is the legal basis which governs the decisions made by the Court of Protection.

The Code of Practice, which accompanies the Act, provides guidance for those making decisions on behalf of others, e.g. to keep accounts and records of all dealings made when acting as an Attorney or Deputy.

See www.justice.gov.uk for further information.

The GoodyBurrett LLP private client team can advise you on all aspects of Court of Protection applications and procedures.

Lasting Power of Attorney

Lasting Powers of Attorney (and previously made Enduring Powers of Attorney) are very useful legal documents which ensure that decisions about financial affairs and welfare can continue to be made if you were no longer able to manage your own affairs in the future.

Lasting Powers of Attorney were introduced by new legislation effective from 1st October 2007. These documents replace Enduring Powers of Attorney which can no longer be made. However, any Enduring Powers of Attorney made before that date are still effective whether registered at the Office of the Public Guardian or not.

To make a Lasting Power of Attorney you need to be over the age of 18 and able to fully understand the document which you are making and also recognise the powers that you will be giving to the person or people you appoint to be your Attorney.

There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney, one which relates to your Property and Financial Affairs and one which covers your Personal Welfare.

When making a Lasting Power of Attorney the Donor (which is the person making the document) can choose to inform an independent third party of the fact that they are making this document and also inform them of the person who will be their Attorney. This is a safeguard brought in to give some added protection to the Donor to ensure that they are not being pressurised to make the document.

When choosing an Attorney, it is always best to seek that person’s agreement to the appointment first as their duties can be quite onerous. An Attorney must make all decisions in the best interests of the Donor. Within the document the Donor can stipulate any restrictions or conditions on decisions to be made by an Attorney. These restrictions and conditions are binding and must be followed. The Donor can also provide guidance for the Attorney whilst acting on their behalf although such guidance is not binding.

Contested Estates

If you or someone you know have questions or concerns about a person’s estate, we can advise you on the options available to you and assist you if a dispute has arisen.

When someone passes away it is a difficult time for family, but things can become more complicated when a dispute arises as to how the person’s estate should be distributed. This may be under the terms of a Will or under the Rules of Intestacy if the person has died without making a valid Will.

It may be that there are concerns as to the circumstances in which the Will was completed, for example, the person did not have sufficient mental capacity to understand what they were signing or the person was coerced or placed under pressure to sign the Will. There may have been a mistake made as to the provisions in the Will. Alternatively, you may believe a later Will exists which has not been discovered and proper investigations have not been carried out.

If there are questions concerning the administration of the person’s estate, a caveat can be placed at the Probate Registry to stop a Grant of Probate being issued until further investigations have been carried out. This should only be done after having taken legal advice because it can have cost implications.

If the person has died without making a Will they are deemed intestate. The law sets out who can deal with the administration of the estate and who benefits from the deceased’s assets. A surviving spouse or civil partner is the principal beneficiary, but depending on the value of the estate, children may also be entitled to a share of the estate. If there is no surviving spouse or children, then other family members may benefit. The rules are very strict and they do not recognise a co-habitee as a beneficiary.

It is possible for certain persons, including co-habitees, to make a claim against the estate for financial provision. Specialist advice should be sought to determine whether such a claim is likely to succeed and the type of provision sought. There are time limits in which such claims can be brought and certain procedures must be followed.

If you would like assistance with any of the above or want to ask if we can help with something not mentioned please contact the team today.

Useful Links

www.step.org