The benefits of a well drafted and executed Will are far more than financial. Having a legally correct document in place helps prevent family arguments and disputes, and ensures less of your estate is lost through taxes and legal costs and more goes to those you want to support after your death.
The team at Spencers Solicitors have been handling Bolsover Wills and Probate claims for more than forty years. We can help you with everything from Wills and obtaining Lasting Power of Attorney, to obtaining a Grant of Probate and managing the valuation and distribution of assets.
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It is surprising to think that nearly 70% of adults in the UK do not have a valid Will. Some do not bother as they mistakenly think their assets will automatically pass to their partner, while others draft DIY Wills that are not legally binding or believe that a verbal discussion with a relative or close friend will suffice.
Unfortunately, the death of a loved one can bring more than emotional grief to a family of someone who dies without a Will (intestate) or who becomes mentally incapacitated through an illness like dementia without having assigned a Lasting Power of Attorney. Our Wills and Probate lawyers can help ensure your wishes are respected if you die or are no longer able to make important decisions for yourself.
There are many reasons a person may make a claim against a Will. The rarest cause is when it is believed the Will is fraudulent. Fraud is a serious allegation and can be difficult to prove, however, there have been instances where claims have been upheld because a testator or witness signatures were forged, or because a person has pretended to be the holder of the estate to have a Will drawn up to suit their needs.
More common reasons that people contest a Will are:
Those who can make claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 include:
If you believe you may have the right to make a claim against an estate then contact Spencers Solicitors today. Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, claimants have six months from the date the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration to begin a claim. You will need the Court's permission to make a claim outside of the 6 months time limit. Permission is only usually given in exceptional circumstances. We are happy to provide you with expert legal advice you can rely on.
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about Wills and probate.
Call Spencers Solicitors today on 01246 266637, or fill in our enquiry form to request a call back. Our expert advisors will be happy to answer any initial enquiry you have about Wills and Probate management including whether you may have legal grounds to dispute a Will.
A Grant of Probate is a certificate is issued in recognition that the Will is legal and valid. You don’t need to obtain Probate if the value of the estate is less than £5,000 cash. If the value of assets is greater than this, or the assets are held in the form of property, shares, pension, or business, you will need to obtain a Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration, in the situation of intestacy) from the court.
Financial institutions can set their own limits for requiring Probate, and you need to be a nominated Executor, or acting on behalf of them, to apply for it. Without a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, you will not be able to administrate the estate.
Probate, the act of administering an estate, typically takes six to nine months. It can take longer if the estate is complicated or if a beneficiary or potential beneficiary contests the will.
The Executor is responsible for ensuring all the tax returns submitted are correct, and that all creditors receive payments. Executors can be personally liable if they do not take any action required to protect the value of assets or if they do not pay all of the estate’s bills correctly and on time.
It is possible to challenge the way an executor is managing the estate or how they interpret the instructions in the Will. You can also make a claim against an executor if you believe they have been fraudulent in the statement of accounts, for example, if they have not reported or undervalued certain assets, or if you suspect they are charging the estate excessive fees for personal gain.
An executor must follow the instructions in the Will. It is not for them to decide whether the distribution of assets is unfair and should be altered, or to make moral judgements. They can use their discretion if there are not specific instructions about when or how assets can be sold, but they need to be careful not to be negligent in protecting the value of them.
There are times when instructions in a will are vague or contradictory. An executor can use their judgement though they should be very careful about providing evidence to support their decision in case their actions are contested by a beneficiary. We always recommend people have a Will professionally drawn up to avoid any ambiguity in their wishes, and contact us if they are an Executor who faces a situation where the Will's instructions are unclear.
A Will does not need to be prepared by a solicitor for it to be legally binding. However, DIY wills are often less robust and more easily challenged as people without a legal background are not always aware of the necessary requirements.
You do not need a lawyer to help you administer an estate, but many people choose to as the executor can be personally held liable for any errors. Also, managing an estate can be time-consuming and it can be difficult to fit responsibilities into working hours.