Wills and powers of attorney
A Will is a formal document setting out the wishes that you want carried out after your death. It avoids problems with administration of a person’s estate on death.
A Will can also make tax provisions to save your family tax on death.
Whilst we realise that a Will is often the last thing on a person’s list of priorities, it can be a relatively straightforward procedure and we can take instructions from you and tailor make the Will to your needs.
It is important to take time drafting a Will as it is an important document and any errors can lead to potentially serious problems.
A person who dies without a Will dies ‘intestate’. If the intestate dies leaving a surviving spouse and children then the surviving spouse receives personal chattels and a sum set down by statute which may vary from year to year. This means that the surviving spouse may not get all of the estate. It may mean that some of the estate goes to the children.
If the surviving spouse dies without children, then the surviving spouse would receive personal chattels and the sum specified by statute. The rest of the estate may revert to surviving parents or brothers and sisters.
It is generally more complicated on death if you do not have a Will and it is therefore advisable to have a Will drawn up. We will obviously be able to provide you with advice and explain the procedure to you.
Powers of Attorney
We are frequently instructed in the preparation of Powers of Attorney or Enduing Powers of Attorney in a variety of situations especially where there are elderly members of the family who want to appoint a trusted member of the family or friend to act for them either immediately or in the future if they feel that they are not going to be able to handle their assets at some time in the future.
When a person dies, there are two scenarios to consider. The first is if the person has died leaving a Will and the second is if the person has died without a Will.
If the person has died leaving a Will, then in that Will, that person will have named executors. It is the executor’s responsibility to carry out the deceased person’s wishes that are specified in the Will. The first thing that the executors have to do is to pay the inheritance tax (if any) and to apply to the Probate Registry for the Grant of Probate. There are various probate registries around the country.
In order to obtain the Grant of Probate, the executors have to assess the amount of the deceased person’s estate and having done this they need to prepare what is known as an ‘oath for executors’ stating that they are the executors and setting out the value of the deceased person’s estate.The oath for executors needs to be sworn in front of a solicitor and the Will produced to that solicitor also.
It is quite common for solicitors to prepare all the documents to obtain a Grant of Probate.
Once the forms have been prepared, the executors must lodge all the documents at the Probate Registry and provided everything is in order, the Grant of Probate will be issued a few weeks later. This is a formal Court document stating the names of the Executors and setting out the value of the deceased person’s estate.
The executors will need this Grant of Probate in order to release funds from banks and building societies and other assets held by the deceased person other than for very small amounts of money.
It is the executor’s job to collect in the deceased’s assets and distribute them according to the deceased person’s Will.If the deceased person does not have a Will, they die ‘intestate’. In this case, people are still needed to distribute the deceased person’s estate. However, in this case, they are called ‘administrators’ and not ‘executors’. Letters of administration is granted to the people specified by statute.
If the deceased person has left a spouse, the spouse would be entitled to apply for letters of administration. If there is no surviving spouse, children can apply and if there are no children or grandchildren, then it may be that parents or brothers and sisters have to apply in the same way as with executors.