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Wills, Probate, Trusts & Tax

Wills & Probate

Few of us like to think about death and, as a result, we often bury our heads in the sand. Leaving loose ends after you die may result in loved ones grappling with complex legal issues at a distressing time. As a result your assets (including your home and its contents, personal items, money, shares and insurance policies, etc.) may not be inherited according to your wishes and also may be reduced significantly by inheritance tax.

To protect your loved ones, we can help with:

• Making a Will and storing it safely for you (storage is free of charge)
• Planning to minimise Inheritance Tax
• Making outright gifts to loved ones
• Setting up a trust fund in your lifetime and administering it on your behalf
• Dealing with your assets on death (Probate/Administration of your Estate) and ensuring the terms of your Will or intestacy rules are followed.

Our aim is to assist you and your loved ones in making these processes as painless as possible.

"It is a breath of fresh air to find a team of Wills & Probate solicitors who do what they say and do it efficiently. Thank you." Dr N Jackson

A Probate Service to Suit You

We help as much (or as little) as you require. It is possible for a friend or relative to obtain probate, though some find it harder than expected as it can be emotional dealing with a loved one's estate. We are ready to support you if you need a probate specialist, for example where:
• the estate is over the inheritance tax threshold, and earning an income where there are taxes due.
• the deceased died without a Will, and it’s a complicated estate to administer.
• there are doubts about the validity of the Will.
• there are dependants who were left out of the Will but who may make a claim on the estate
• the estate has complex arrangements, such as assets held in a trust.

A challenge which you may face in addition to applying for probate is to determine your loved one's financial position. Our tax team works alongside the probate solicitors to help you get matters right and thus avoid problems with HMRC. Where our tax team have been dealing with your annual income tax returns during your lifetime, we will have a head-start in collecting the initial information needed and in finalising the tax to the date of death without needing to liaise with an external accountant.

"Thank you so much for making the will process so simple. I particularly found your instructional video very helpful and easy to understand. Thank you also for the professional, kind and considerate way you have conducted yourself during this very stressful time in my life." Andy Tofis of Royston

Practical matters when arranging Probate

Dealing with the passing of a loved one is a daunting and difficult time. Particularly if you've not been through it before, here are some actions which need consideration.

Registration of death. This is done at the Register for Births, Marriages and Deaths with the doctor’s certificate.

Locate Will. If it is not immediately available, conduct a thorough search.

Make property secure. If the deceased lived alone, then the property will need to be secure and safe from damage.

Bank accounts. Banks will need to be notified and the accounts frozen.

Insurance. Home contents and buildings insurance providers will need to be informed.

Collate estate information including bank accounts, utilities, subscriptions, pensions, life cover, annuities, digital accounts, assets overseas.

"I have found all aspects of the Probate Team to be excellent - the staff have been highly efficient and friendly." Mrs Joyce Kirk of Cambridge

Call 01223 417200 and ask for the Estates & Trusts Team.

Services for the Elderly

Our specialist practitioners don’t just administer estates. We work with our valued clients throughout their lifetime to ensure that all issues such as Wills, inheritance tax, succession planning and trusts to care for loved ones are implemented sensitively and sensibly in accordance with your wishes and your family’s needs.

Barr Ellison is there when your affairs need managing during your lifetime. We can assist with making Lasting Powers of Attorney, both for your property and affairs, and also for your personal welfare. If you have not made a Lasting Power of Attorney for looking after your financial affairs whilst you are mentally capable, then we can assist your family to make an application to the Court of Protection so that someone (a Deputy, preferably a member of your family) can be appointed to look after matters for you.

In addition, we can advise you as to who should be responsible for the payment of care home fees if you need residential and/or nursing care. This may be the responsibility of the NHS (in whole or in part), the local authority or the individual.

Call 01223 417200 and ask for the Estates & Trusts Team.

Powers of Attorney

At Barr Ellison, we do not under-estimate the difficulties which can be encountered when someone loses the mental and/or physical ability to manage their day to day affairs. Our team of specialist practitioners is here to assist you, should you wish to put in hand arrangements to deal with such eventualities.

Lasting Powers of Attorney
Are you concerned about the management of your property and financial affairs if you become unable to deal with them? By making a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), you are able to choose the person or persons (known as an attorney) who would look after those matters for you.

You may also make a Lasting Power of Attorney for your personal welfare where your chosen attorney could deal with other matters, such as the choice of a care home, if your mental capacity prevents you making rational decisions.

By registering your LPAs at the time of making them, your attorney will be able to assist you as soon as the need arises.

For further information, see our Legal Guide to Lasting Powers of Attorney.

The Court of Protection
If you do not make a Lasting Power of Attorney for your property and financial affairs, then, when difficulties arise, someone (probably a member of your family) will need to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your Deputy. We can assist with the application and offer advice during such difficult times.

Call 01223 417200 and ask for the Estates & Trusts Team.

Personal Tax Advice

Tax is one of the inevitabilities in life – but while the government tells us it doesn’t have to be taxing, most individuals and businesses are simply too busy to unravel its full complexities. As a result, many end up paying more than they should.

With a situation that is constantly changing, there are times when only a real expert can help. Our tax department is in tune with all the latest legislation, one of whom who has experience working for HM Revenue & Customs. We offer a breadth of advice that includes self-assessment, property income, capital gains tax, tax investigations & disputes, and trust income.

There may be no avoiding the tax man – but why pay more than you should?

Call 01223 417200 and ask for the Estates & Trusts Team.

Gifts, Trusts & Inheritance Tax

A liability to inheritance tax can arise on disposals of assets (including property) whether by way of a gift during your lifetime or on death. The rate of tax is often high and its impact if not fully considered can reduce significantly the benefit of a gift or inheritance.

Our team at Barr Ellison can advise you on your potential inheritance tax liability as well as possible steps tailored to your circumstances aimed at reducing or, where possible, eliminating this.

One of the key responsibilities of Executors and Administrators dealing with an estate is to ensure that the correct amount of Inheritance tax is paid on an estate and we can provide specialist advice to assist with this, whilst making sure that the full exemptions and reliefs due (e.g. business property and agricultural property) are claimed to secure the entitlement of the beneficiaries.

We can also advise on tax planning opportunities available for beneficiaries when inheriting assets from an estate, for example, through the use of Deeds of Variation and trusts. Examples of the advice we provide are:

• Lifetime planning (e.g. trusts for business assets and for children or grandchildren)
• Tax efficient Wills (e.g. for unmarried couples)
• Use of exemptions and reliefs (e.g. gifts to spouse, out of income, and to charity)
• Deeds of Variation
• Trusts (e.g. to keep death in service benefits out of future assessments for inheritance tax)
• Inheritance tax returns and support in obtaining an agreement of liability with HMRC.

Call 01223 417200 and ask for the Estates & Trusts Team.

Contested Wills & Probate Claims

We appreciate that it is distressing to find that, following the death of a loved one, inadequate provision has been made for dependents or there are questions as to the validity of a Will or even as to the conduct of those appointed to administer the Estate. Such claims are frequently complex. They require sympathetic treatment and understanding given the close family relationships often involved.

In all appropriate cases we first explore avenues other than Court action in an effort to resolve a dispute, such as through mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution. If that fails we are effective litigators and will act diligently to protect your position in accordance with your instruction. Our litigation and private client teams work closely together in advising clients on claims of this nature.

We can help with:
• Inheritance Act claims where inadequate provision is made in a Will or by intestacy for dependents including spouse, child or cohabitee.
• Disputes as to the validity of a Will for example on the grounds of lack of mental capacity, undue influence, improper execution or suspected forgery.
• Claims by and against Personal Representatives, Trustees and Attorneys.
• Removal and substitution of Personal Representatives.
• Proprietory Estoppel where promises of inheritance have been made but not kept.

“Thank you for your help and expertise in our probate matter, Sarah [Payne], and please thank Luck Ooi as well. We certainly got a better resolution than I had thought possible at the beginning of the whole affair.”
Adrian Roberts

"We cannot thank you enough, Sarah. In addition to fierce efficiency, you never failed to be concise, helpful and extremely thoughtful."
Julia Mart

Call 01223 417200 and ask to speak to Sarah Payne in the first instance.

Court of Protection Deputyship Order

When a person loses the mental capacity to administer their own property and financial affairs, this can leave them in a difficult situation as family and friends cannot help them with the simplest of tasks such as paying their utility bills, accessing money for food and clothing, and ensuring that the person is receiving their private pensions. This can become very stressful for the person who lacks capacity as well as those who care about them.

In order to allow access to the person’s financial affairs, where there is no Power of Attorney in place, it is often the case that family or friends will have to approach the Court of Protection for a Court Order (Deputyship Order) which will give them authority to deal with financial matters. The applicant can be any person over the age of 18 and in many cases a spouse, partner or close relative will be the Deputy. It is usually recommended that at least 2 people be appointed as Deputies to act jointly and severally.

Barr Ellison provides the following services:

- Advice and support on what Court of Protection application(s) are required and are in the best interests of the person
- Full application service in requesting the Court of Protection Orders
- Help and guidance on what it involved in being a Court of Protection Deputy
- Professional Appointment of Deputy; if there is no one able to take on the role of Deputy then Barr Ellison have the expertise to be appointed as a professional Deputy and manage the same.

Contact Us
For more information and advice, call 01223 417200 (Parkside office) or 01223 411315 (Addenbrooke’s* office) and ask for a member of the Court of Protection team.

Call 01223 417200 and ask for a member of the Court of Protection team

* Barr Ellison supports the invaluable work undertaken by the Addenbrooke's NHS Trust. We will not accept instructions to pursue claims against Addenbrooke's or any part of the NHS.