Inheritance planning and how lawyers can help you

 

Inheritance lawyers can help with all aspects of distribution of your estate before and after death. If you are over eighteen and don’t already have a will then you should instruct an inheritance lawyer to prepare a will and talk about what will happen to your estate on death.

Writing a will

It is vitally important that you instruct inheritance lawyers to assist with preparation of your will. Failure to do so could mean that your will might not comply with the relevant requirements of the Wills Act 1837 and be invalid. People with children should be particularly aware of what would happen to their children if they died and should make provision for this in their will.

In order to give legal effect to a will, inheritance solicitors will check that the testator:

  • Has legal capacity to make the will
  • Has the necessary intention

In addition to this, solicitors will ensure that the will is executed in accordance with the formalities laid down in the Wills Act 1837. This means that it must be:

  • In writing
  • Signed by the testator (or by another person at the direction of the testator and in their presence)

The testator must have:

  • Intended his signature to give effect to the will
  • Must be made in the presence of two or more witnesses, with each witness signing the will

If your will is deemed to be invalid then your estate will pass through the usual rules of intestacy and not in accordance with how you want your property to be distributed. Your solicitor will ensure that the necessary requirements are satisfied and that your will is properly executed.

Tax

Inheritance lawyers can also advise on the tax implications of your death. The government threshold for inheritance tax currently stands at £325,000. This means that any capital on the estate left after the death will be charged at:

  • 0% up to £325,000
  • 40% over £325,000

This nil-rate band changes every year and you should take advice from inheritance lawyers on increases in the band. Inheritance lawyers can advise you how to manage your assets to avoid overpaying tax.

Distributing the assets

Inheritance solicitors can also help relatives and friends of the deceased to make claims for a share of the deceased’s assets. Regardless of whether the deceased died with a will or without a will, a claim for a share of the assets can be made under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Under this Act an application can be made for reasonable financial provision by:

  • A spouse
  • A former spouse
  • A child
  • A dependant
  • Someone that lived with the deceased

If you feel aggrieved at the distribution of a deceased person’s assets then you should contact an inheritance solicitor who can advise you whether you are entitled to make a claim.

You should be aware that a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 should be made within six months of the Grant of Representation to the deceased’s estate, although the court has discretion to allow claims outside of this period. It’s a complex area of law, and using a specialist solicitor is highly recommended.

For more information on how to deal with an estate you have inherited, see our FAQ page on deceased estates.

Do you need legal assistance in preparing the distribution of your assets, or dealing with assets that you have inherited? Contact Law works with specialist wills and probate solicitors who are experts in dealing with inheritance and tax issues. Please call us on 0808 129 5761 or complete the web-form above.

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