As leading Chesterfield Wills and Probate solicitors, Spencers Solicitors can assist with any dispute or query you have regarding the management of Wills, Probate, Wills Trusts, and Estate Administration. We can support you with everything from writing a Will to removing an incompetent trustee.
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It is astonishing to think that around 70% of adults in the UK do not have a legally binding Will, potentially leaving their loved ones financially vulnerable in the event of their death. In many cases, those who die without leaving a Will (“intestate”) believe they have more time to organise their affairs or they assume that their partner will automatically inherit their estate. They may write a DIY Will which can be contested in court because it wasn’t legally binding or believe that simply talking to their loved ones about what they want to happen is sufficient.
Unfortunately, our experienced Wills and Probate lawyers know that disputes can arise in even the closest of families and that the best way to ensure your estate is managed the way you desire is with a professionally written Will.
In addition to a Will writing service, we can also assist with obtaining Probate and Administering an Estate. Ask us about:
As experienced Wills and Probate lawyers, Spencers can create valid Wills, but we can also help you challenge a Will you believe it to be unfair or illegal. Reasons a Will may be contested include if:
A case study example of a successful Will challenge involved a couple who were separated at the time of the husband’s unexpected death. At the start of their estrangement, he had changed his Will to leave his entire estate to their children, effectively leaving his estranged partner, who had left work to raise their family, without an income and with limited assets. A solicitor successfully contested the Will, arguing that financial provision would have been granted to the woman in the event of their divorce, and she received a settlement from the estate in recognition of this.
The team at Spencers Solicitors can help arrange for you to nominate a Power of Attorney to act on your behalf in the event you become unable to manage your affairs due to illness or a lack of mental capacity. Granting someone capacity to make important decisions on your behalf through a Power of Attorney is a significant sign of trust, and it is important both sides understand the responsibility it entails.
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.