Handling matters related to death or end-of-life decisions can be challenging. However, that does not mean the topics can be ignored. Whether you are thinking about drafting a Will, or are responsible for getting a loved one's estate through Probate, we can guide you through the process.
Winch & Winch Solicitors is one of the oldest firms in the Medway Towns and we are committed to providing a high-quality service and compassionate legal advice. We can help you with every step of the estate planning process with an eye towards capturing your wishes and making them as clear as possible so as to avoid costly and stressful disputes.
Drafting a Will Tailored to Your Needs
The importance of having a well-written Will cannot be overstressed. Wills can help manage your finances at the time of your death, but they can also protect your family. When we work with clients, we tailor our writing to meet their personal financial circumstances, family commitments and possible taxation. A Will can be used to appoint guardians for any minor children and it can be used to reduce the amount of tax that is paid by your estate. There are other reasons for making a Will, for example, you can appoint the people who will administer your estate (your "Executors"), and you can include provisions in your Will to help them deal with the estate and any particular circumstances which may arise after your death.
It is particularly important to make a Will if you are not married or are not in a registered civil partnership, because the law does not automatically recognise cohabitants as having the same rights as spouses and civil partners. A Will is also vital if you have children or dependants who may not be able to care for themselves. Without a Will the law dictates who inherits your estate.
You should also consider taking legal advice about making a Will if there are people who could make a claim against your estate when you die, or you want to include a trust in your Will
But I have nothing to leave
You are probably worth a lot more than you think! A house, a car, life assurance, all have to be distributed after your death.
Will it cost a lot?
The majority of Wills are straightforward and the fee for making a Will is not expensive. We can tell you how much it will cost at the outset.
The cost of not making a Will could be a very great deal more.
What we need to know
To draw up your Will we will need to know what you own, who you want to leave your assets to, how you want to divide your property and whether there are any conditions to attach to a gift (e.g. that children/grandchildren must reach a particular age before they receive their inheritance). We also need to know who you want to appoint as Executors of your Will and whether you have particular funeral wishes.
Once the Will has been signed
It is important to keep your Will in a safe place and tell your Executors where it is. We would be happy to store your Will for free.
Even if you already have a Will you should keep it under review, especially if there has been a significant change in your life, for example getting married, having children, getting divorced or acquiring substantial money or property. You may also need to make a new Will if any beneficiary or Executor has died. We recommend you review your Will at least every five years.
It is possible to make minor changes to your Will by making a Codicil, and this is something we can discuss with you.
Handling Medway Towns Probate With Sympathy and Efficiency
After the death of a loved one it is important to those who are left behind that the estate is administered with sympathy and efficiency. If the person who has died leaves a Will the Executors may need to apply for a Grant of Probate in order to administer the estate. If there is no Will and the person has died intestate the process can often be more complicated.
Dealing with the affairs of someone who has died can sometimes take a long time. It is not unusual for it to take up to a year, perhaps longer if things are not straightforward. Many organisations may be involved in the process, such as banks, insurance companies, the DWP and HMRC.
Our experienced solicitors can help with the Probate process by:
- Obtaining valuations of assets in the estate;
- Applying for the Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration if there is no Will)
- Agreeing any tax liabilities;
- Gathering the assets of the estate
- Administering the estate assets according to the Will or law of intestacy
The likely costs involved will depend on what is involved in administering the estate and often it is not possible to know immediately. We will of course provide an estimate of timescale and cost at the outset and will keep this regularly updated. Cost should not be your only consideration however, as it is equally important to find a solicitor who is approachable and sympathetic and whose advice you understand.
Our team can also deal with other aspects of the process such as associated property issues including conveyancing and Assents.
Administration of an estate cannot be completed until all claims to it have been received and any disagreements resolved. There may be Inheritance Act claims or disputes as to the validity of the Will that need to be considered, and arguments between family members, beneficiaries or Personal Representatives can also delay matters. If this is a concern you should visit our page detailing our Contentious Probate services.