Research States Only Four in 10 UK Adults Have or are Writing a Will

A recent report by IRN Research into Wills and Probate has found that only four in 10 adults in the UK have made or are writing a Will. UK Wills & Probate Market 2020: Consumer Research Report also shows that there has only been a 1% increase in Will-making between 2019 and 2020.

This has come as a surprise to the industry, as there was a rise earlier in the pandemic in people enquiring about making a Will, which we reported on at the time.

Although the number of adults with a Will increases with age, for example, the report states 79% of over 65s and 57% aged between 55 and 64 have one, the main driver for those choosing not to make a Will is because they don’t think they have anything of value to pass on. This is despite one in six owning a property. A recent study by Royal London found that of people aged over 55 without a Will, 16% own a home either outright or with a mortgage.  

For those that have made a Will the IRN report cites the number one reason amongst respondents for doing so was that they felt it provided “peace of mind”, with 67% stating this was the main driver behind their decision. Just under half of respondents (49% decreasing from 51% in 2019) stated that a Will ensures that their estate is distributed as they intended when they pass away. 

writing a Will

Issues that can Arise with not Writing a Will

If someone dies without making a Will, this is known as dying intestate. Usually when a person dies, their Estate is divided according to their Will. This means that their estate goes to who they want, how they want. If a person dies intestate, then laws known as laws of intestacy come into effect. These laws place relatives in a priority order of who inherits the estate, starting with the spouse. After this, the order is:

  1. Children
  2. Grandchildren
  3. Great grandchildren
  4. Parents
  5. Siblings
  6. Nieces and nephews
  7. Other close relatives

When someone dies intestate, only a beneficiary of the estate can apply for the authority to administer the estate. This person will be known as the administrator of the estate (as opposed to an executor when there is a Will). The role of the administrator is very similar to the role of the executor.

The administrator must apply to the Probate Registry for a legal document called a grant of letters of administration. This document grants them legal authority to deal with the deceased person’s assets and administer their estate. Without this document, the administrator will not be able to sell their property and they may not even be able to close their bank accounts.

When it comes to probate property the complications become even greater. For example, houses can become unsellable while trying to track down relatives. Other issues arise in cases of jointly owned property. This includes holiday homes owned by a group of people. If someone in the group dies, their share will pass to their family rather than the ownership group of friends. This is despite what they may have intended. The Will ensures that there are no ambiguities for the wishes of the deceased when it comes to property.  

How We Can Help

Here at The Inheritance Experts we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with inheritance claims. This includes writing and contesting a Will. Contact us today by filling in our contact form. Or call us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

What Happens if A Beneficiary Dies First?

In simple terms, if a beneficiary dies first, before the deceased, then they do not inherit anything. It usually takes several months to deal with the administration of an Estate in full. This is especially true if there is property that needs to be sold. Because of this, there may be situations where a beneficiary who was living at the time of the deceased’s death dies before receiving their inheritance. This can cause confusion as to what happens to their share of the Estate.

Many Wills contain a survivorship clause. These usually state a beneficiary must survive the deceased by a certain length of time to inherit. This is normally 28 days. If they die before this, they are treated as having died before the deceased.

Where there is no Will, then under the Rules of Intestacy a spouse or civil partner must also survive by 28 days to inherit from the deceased’s Estate.

If the Beneficiary Dies Before the Deceased

Generally, if a beneficiary dies before the deceased, they will not inherit anything from the deceased’s Estate. Whatever they were due to receive will fall back into the deceased’s Estate. However, the deceased may make provision in their Will for the gift to be redirected in those circumstances stating that if the original beneficiary dies before them then alternative beneficiaries will receive the gift instead.

This can also happen under general law where a Will contains a gift to a child, adopted child or grandchild of the deceased, and the child dies before the deceased, leaving children of their own. Then, unless the Will expresses a contrary intention, the gift will go to the children of the initial beneficiary.

In effect, this means that if a parent leaves their child a gift in a Will and that child dies before the parent, leaving children of their own, then those children (the parent’s grandchildren) will receive their parent’s share.

If the Beneficiary Dies After the Deceased

As long as the beneficiary is alive for the time in the survivorship clause, their share of the deceased’s Estate will pass to their Estate. This will then be distributed according to their Will or the Rules of Intestacy.

If the beneficiary’s estate needs a Grant of Probate, then the executor needs to know the total value of their Estate to apply for the Grant of Probate. They then need to declare this on the Inheritance Tax forms for their Estate.

If the executor cannot calculate the exact amount, then they can use an estimate figure and correct it later. An example of this is if the deceased’s property has not yet been sold.

How We Can Help

Here at The Inheritance Experts, we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with inheritance claims. This includes cases where a beneficiary dies first. Contact us today by filling in our contact form. Or call us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

Plans to Modernise Power of Attorney System

The government has announced that they are planning to modernise the lasting power of attorney system in the UK. They will hold a three month consultation to examine how technology can be used to speed up the service. This consultation will also reform the process of witnessing and improve access. It will look at making the process of objecting to an LPA simpler. It will also introduce new safeguards to protect against fraud and abuse.

The government is also considering creating a fast-track for families who need to quickly set up an LPA for a relative who has suffered a sudden change in their health.

Under the current paper-based application process, it can take months for powers to be handed over. These changes will see the service become predominantly digital, whilst also keeping alternatives for those unable to use the internet.

Lasting Power of Attorney

A Lasting Power of Attorney document (LPA) is a legal document that allows you to appoint one or more people to make decisions on your behalf during your lifetime.

If you one day lose your mental capacity to make decisions, then someone you know, and trust, can make them for you. They are the Attorney.

To make a Lasting Power of Attorney document, you must be over 18, and have mental capacity to do so. Mental capacity is a legal term that means you understand the decisions you make, and why you are making them. Only you can put an LPA in place; someone cannot do it on your behalf. You must be able to act independently and be able to make independent decisions about what you would like to do.

There are two types of LPA. These are:

  • Health and wellbeing Lasting Power of Attorney
  • Property and financial affairs Lasting Power of Attorney

Health and wellbeing LPA

A health and wellbeing LPA can make decisions about your healthcare, treatments and living arrangements if you can no longer make them for yourself. For example, if you want to stay in your own home rather than moving to a care home. Then, your LPA would have the authority to ensure you can do that.

A health and wellbeing LPA is only consulted if you have lost the mental capacity to make these decisions for yourself.

Property and financial LPA

A property and financial LPA makes decisions on your financial affairs, as well as your property decisions in England and Wales. They can make decisions for you in terms of selling your property, for example.

The person or people you choose can either be attorneys if you lose mental capacity, or in a broader sense, for example, through age or an accident. You can also use them if you move out of the UK and wish for them to deal with your finances in the UK.

How We Can Help with Power of Attorney

Here at The Inheritance Experts we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with different inheritance matters. This includes power of attorney matters. Contact us today by filling in our contact form. Or call us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

Manager Fined After Firm Took on Probate Matter with No Experience

The compliance officer and manager of a firm has to pay a fine of £2,000 after the firm took on a probate matter with no experience. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) imposed the penalty after the solicitor showed a ‘disregard for his regulatory obligation to exercise proper management’ over the business. This lack of control and oversight allowed for almost £58,000 in client monies to be held without the firm even having a secure client account.

In December 2017 the firm began work on a probate matter despite having no prior experience. The fee-earner assigned to the work had never handled a probate matter previously.

No file reviews were completed by any manager at the firm and there was no due diligence of any client. It was not spotted that the estate of the probate matter had debts of £6,000 before estate monies were distributed to beneficiaries, and potential beneficiaries with equal or greater claims to the estate were not identified. A total of £37,600 of estate monies were paid out to several third parties inappropriately, including payment of hospital bills for relatives of the deceased.

probate matter with no experience

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal and financial process that deals with the property, money, and possessions of someone when they die. When a person dies, before the executor of their Will can distribute their estate, they must apply for probate. After the court grants probate, the next of kin or executor can then deal with the deceased’s assets.

The Process of Probate

The process of probate often involves a lot of complicated tax, legal and financial work. Therefore, it breaks down into five stages.

  1. Identifying all the deceased’s assets and liabilities to determine the value of the estate.
  2. Paying inheritance tax and applying for the Grant of Representation.
  3. Selling the deceased’s assets, paying liabilities, and accounting to HMRC for any further tax due to or from the estate.
  4. Preparing estate accounts showing all payments, and showing the balance left for the beneficiaries. Sending the accounts to the executor for approval.
  5. Transferring the assets that the beneficiaries wish to keep, and distributing the Estate.

Probate is required in England and Wales when the deceased owns property. This includes houses, buildings, and land. When a bank or financial institution requests a Grant of Representation, this also requires probate. Usually, this happens when property goes over the threshold that the institution sets.

The process of probate can be long and complicated. This is why it is important for the solicitors dealing with the case to know what they are doing. If they do not know, they can make mistakes or distribute the estate incorrectly. This was the case at the firm who had no experience handling probate cases.

How We Can Help

Here at The Inheritance Experts, we work with solicitors who have a wealth of experience dealing with Probate. Contact us today by filling in our contact form or by calling us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

Long Probate Causing People to Struggle with Funeral Costs

There have been recent reports of an inheritance issue brewing across the UK, as long probate is causing people to struggle with funeral costs when a loved one passes away.

Research from Tower Street Finance has shown thirty percent of individuals in the UK have admitted they would not be able to afford to give their loved one a funeral.

Part of this problem arises from the fact many are reliant upon an inheritance from their loved one who has passed away to cover the all-important costs. One in seven of individuals asked said they would rely on an inheritance from the person who has passed away to cover funeral costs.

But with a long probate process, which happens often, it is unlikely individuals will get access to the funds they need within the time necessary.

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal and financial process that deals with the property, money, and possessions of someone when they die. When a person dies, before the executor of their Will can distribute their estate, they must apply for probate. After the court grants probate, the next of kin or executor can then deal with the deceased’s assets.

If a person dies without a Will, then the law decides who inherits everything that person owns. They follow the Rules of Intestacy to determine this. It is usually a spouse of the deceased.

Probate is usually needed in England or Wales when:

  • The person who died owned property (houses, buildings or land)
  • A bank or other financial institution asks for a grant of probate or grant of letters of administration (also called a grant of representation)

How long does Probate Take?

In England and Wales, it can take up to a year to complete probate. This depends on the assets and if there is a valid Will. In most cases HMRC conduct a thorough review of the Inheritance Tax information the executor provides.

Probate can involve many hours of detailed administrative work, including calculating Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax, and other legal work.

Although the Probate process itself can be relatively straightforward with often only a few forms to be completed, the rest of the procedure that happens before this can be very time consuming.

Typically, it can take 6 to 9 months for beneficiaries to receive inheritance. However there can be delays, causing long probate. Examples of these delays include:

  • Selling shares, property, and foreign assets
  • Finding missing beneficiaries
  • Placing advertisements for potential claimants to come forward
  • Investigations by the Department for Work and Pensions
  • Claiming on a life insurance policy

How We Can Help

Here at The Inheritance Experts we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with all manner of inheritance claims. Contact us by filling in our contact form. Or call us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

Inheritance Crisis Looms as Local Authorities Work with Heir Hunters

In recent years, heir hunters have emerged to reunite people with their inheritances and manage the process accordingly. However, recent research from Anglia Research showed an inheritance crisis may be looming. This is because heir hunters are working with local authorities on anti-competitive, unaccountable contracts.

Anglia Research warned families face falling into long, costly legal battles over disputed inheritances. This is after research found local councils in England and Wales are ignoring Government guidelines and are entering into anti-competitive contracts with heir hunters.

The company surveyed local authorities in England and Wales to see how they dealt with the increase in people dying without a will and with no known next-of-kin during the coronavirus pandemic.

The research found that seven local authorities have written contracts with heir hunters. One authority in the Midlands confirmed it charges heir hunters for the details of each deceased person, or “lead”, the Council provides them with.

How the Possible Inheritance Crisis Could Impact Inheritance

Anglia Research explain: “Some contracts between an heir hunter and a local authority limit the scrutiny given to each case. Some unethical heir hunters use this to only identify easy to find heirs to an estate, collect their fee and forego the rest of the beneficiaries.

“Only 17% of local authorities said they have put in measures to prevent their employees from making under the table referrals to heir hunters. While 44 of the 348 local councils (12%) said they have policies which prevent unethical heir hunters overcharging beneficiaries.

“Only 4% of local councils which use heir hunters said they are considering how to improve their practices. Only six local authorities (1.7%) said they have implemented or are in the process of implementing a best practice approach to working with probate genealogists.”

Philip Turvey, an executive director at Anglia Research, commented on the potential inheritance crisis. “The industry has been dealing with a surge of unqualified and unethical practitioners ever since the Heir Hunters TV show sensationalised the work we do.

“As a result, we have seen a steady rise of anti-competitive contracts being signed between heir hunters and local councils, which may lead to several beneficiaries starting expensive, time-consuming court cases to obtain the inheritance they are rightfully owed.

“With the number of people dying without a will rising by 60% during the first lockdown, local councils need the support of trusted probate genealogists. This is to ensure that they distribute the deceased’s assets to the correct next-of-kin.

“The last thing they need in a time as busy and disruptive as this is an unethical heir hunter trying to enter into an exclusive contract that will ultimately only help them line their pockets at the expense of beneficiaries.”

If Someone Dies Without Making A Will

Usually when a person dies, their Estate is divided according to their Will. This means that their estate goes to who they want, how they want. If a person dies intestate, then laws known as laws of intestacy come into effect. These laws place relatives in a priority order of who inherits the estate, starting with the spouse. After the husband, wife, or civil partner, the order is:

  1. Children
  2. Grandchildren
  3. Great grandchildren
  4. Parents
  5. Siblings
  6. Nieces and nephews
  7. Other close relatives

When someone dies intestate, only a beneficiary of the estate can apply for the authority to administer the estate. This person will be known as the administrator of the estate. This is as opposed to an executor when there is a Will. The role of the administrator is very similar to the role of the executor.

If the person had no Will and you feel that they would have left you something if they had made a Will, then you may be able to make an Inheritance Act claim.

How We Can Help

Here at The Inheritance Experts, we work with solicitors who have years of experience in all manner of inheritance claims. This includes cases where there is no Will. So contact us by filling in our contact form. Or call us on to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

Barclays Wealth states people do not understand Inheritance Tax rules

Barclays Wealth has stated that there are people who do not understand the rules surrounding Inheritance Tax, and they have issued a warning about the levy. Barclays Wealth states nearly a third of those asked wrongly believe ISAs are exempt from Inheritance Tax.

Similarly, 40 percent believe they will be able to gift money to their immediate family without paying Inheritance Tax.

Britons have been proven to be equally confused when it comes to the gifting of property upon their eventual death. Over a quarter of those asked said they did not know if the value of their property would be considered as separate to the rest of their financial assets.

Barclays Wealth has therefore warned many individuals could be “caught out” by their lack of understanding of the rules.

This could mean loved ones face a higher tax bill as a person has not taken the steps while they were alive to reduce their IHT bill as much as is legally possible. 

Inheritance Tax Rules

Inheritance tax (IHT) is payable at 40 percent on the value of an estate above a certain threshold of a person who has passed away. To avoid taxation as much as is legally possible, many people choose to take preventative action before they pass away. However, research from Barclays Wealth has shown many people are failing to understand how IHT works.

In England and Wales, if an Estate is worth more than £325,000 when a person dies, then they typically have to pay Inheritance Tax. Currently, the Inheritance Tax rate is 40% on anything above the threshold. If a person leaves more than 10% of the estate’s value to charity, then the rate may reduce to 36%.

If inheritance tax is payable

The grant of representation will not usually be issued until the inheritance tax (IHT) has been paid to HMRC. This can potentially cause a delay in the administration of the estate.

You usually have to pay 10% of the tax due on the value of property and shares plus all of the tax due in respect of the rest of the estate. This tax payment should be made within six months of death. The additional tax is payable in yearly instalments over a ten-year period, or as soon as they are sold. Interest will start to accrue on any outstanding inheritance tax after six months from the date of death.

How we can help

Here at The Inheritance Experts we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with inheritance claims. This includes Inheritance Tax matters. Contact us today by filling in our contact form. Or call us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

Prince Philip’s £10m estate could be passed to Queen with Inheritance Tax exemption under married couples’ rule

The Queen may face an Inheritance Tax exemption on the Duke of Edinburgh’s estate if he has left his entire estate to the monarch.

Married couples can pass their estate to their spouse with an Inheritance tax exemption when they die. This means they can avoid a 40% tax above a £325,000 threshold. 

An obscure legal clause also allows inheritance to pass from “sovereign to sovereign” or the consort to a reigning monarch. This means that the Queen could pass it on to Prince Charles when she dies with another Inheritance Tax exemption. 

The Royal Family could potentially be hit with having to pay millions to the taxman if the Duke leaves a bequest to other family members. However, there would no inheritance tax bill if he left everything to one of the hundreds of charities he supported. 

Official Government tax advice says there is normally nothing to pay “if you leave everything above the threshold to your spouse, civil partner, a charity or a community amateur sports club”. 

Giving smaller amounts over 10% of the estate to charity attracts a tax rate of 36 percent on some assets. 

Inheritance Tax Rules

In England and Wales, if an Estate is worth more than £325,000 when a person dies, then they typically have to pay Inheritance Tax. Currently, the Inheritance Tax rate is 40% on anything above the threshold. If a person leaves more than 10% of the estate’s value to charity, then the rate may reduce to 36%.

If inheritance tax is payable

The grant of representation will not usually be issued until the inheritance tax (IHT) has been paid to HMRC. This can potentially cause a delay in the administration of the estate.

You will normally be expected to pay 10% of the tax due on the value of property and shares. You also have to pay all of the tax due in respect of the rest of the estate. This tax payment should be made within six months of death. The rest is payable in yearly instalments over a ten-year period, or as soon as they are sold. Interest will start to accrue on any outstanding inheritance tax after six months from the date of death.

If there are further assets in the estate, or the value has not been correctly stated, you may have to give HMRC a corrective account and pay any additional tax.

How we can help

Here at The Inheritance Experts we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with all manner of inheritance claims. This includes Inheritance Tax matters. Contact us today by filling in our contact form. Or call us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

Government Tax Day is set to Simplify Probate

The Government announced in their recent ‘Tax Day’ that around 200,000 executors and beneficiaries of estates will no longer have to complete inheritance tax forms because of changes that they have made according to a recent report. This is set to simplify probate, as it will cut the red tape and reduce the paperwork people currently have to fill out.

The Current Rules for Probate

Probate is required in England and Wales when the deceased owns property. This includes houses, buildings, and land. When a bank or financial institution requests a Grant of Representation, this also requires probate. Usually, this happens when property goes over the threshold that the institution sets.

The financial institutions where the deceased had investments or bank accounts all have their own rules about when they require the document. This is regardless of their value, so sometimes there may be other reasons an institution asks for the document.

In England and Wales, if an Estate is worth more than £325,000 when a person dies, then they typically have to pay Inheritance Tax. Currently, the Inheritance Tax rate is 40% on anything above the threshold. If a person leaves more than 10% of the estate’s value to charity, then the rate may reduce to 36%.

In England and Wales, it can take up to a year to complete probate. This depends on the assets and if there is a valid Will. In most cases HMRC conduct a thorough review of the Inheritance Tax information the executor provides.

How the New Rules Simplify Probate

The new rules will simplify the time it takes to grant probate by reducing the amount of paperwork that the executor must fill in before the court issues the grant.

The Government confirmed: “Today’s update will also cut inheritance tax red tape for more than 200,000 estates every year, dramatically reducing the amount of paperwork many families fill out.

“Over 90 percent of non-tax paying states each year will no longer have to complete inheritance tax forms when probate or confirmation is required from January 1 2022.”

Contesting Probate

Under the Inheritance Act, you only have six months from the date they issue the Grant of Probate in which to contest a will. Beneficiaries who are making a claim have twelve months. There is no statutory time limit for probate disputes around fraud.

Only someone who has an interest in the will is legally able to dispute probate. This includes individuals who are:

  • Official beneficiary.
  • Have a promise from the testator they will receive the property.
  • Somebody or some debt collector that the testator still owes money to.
  • They can also be someone financially depending on the testator but left out of the will. Examples may include their unmarried partner or child.

How we can help

Here at The Inheritance experts we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with all manner of inheritance claims. This includes probate. Contact us today by filling in our contact form. Or call us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

Contesting Probate Without A Will

When someone dies, probate must be completed. Probate is the process which allows the executor to legally distribute the Estate of the deceased. The Estate includes everything that the person owned when they died, including property, money and possessions. Probate usually takes between 6 and 12 months, and usually begins when the person’s death certificate is finalised. Contesting probate without a Will is similar to contesting probate with a Will, however the way you contest it is slightly different.

If someone dies without making a Will, this is known as dying intestate. Regardless of whether a person has made a Will or not, the process of tarting probate is the same. However, the probate process differs in who decides how the estate is divided.

When Someone Dies Without Making A Will

Usually when a person dies, their Estate is divided according to their Will. This means that their estate goes to who they want, how they want. If a person dies intestate, then laws known as laws of intestacy come into effect. These laws place relatives in a priority order of who inherits the estate, starting with the spouse. After the husband, wife, or civil partner,  the order is:

  1. Children
  2. Grandchildren
  3. Great grandchildren
  4. Parents
  5. Siblings
  6. Nieces and nephews
  7. Other close relatives

When someone dies intestate, only a beneficiary of the estate can apply for the authority to administer the estate. This person will be known as the administrator of the estate (as opposed to an executor when there is a Will). The role of the administrator is very similar to the role of the executor.

The administrator must apply to the Probate Registry for a legal document called a grant of letters of administration. This document grants them legal authority to deal with the deceased person’s assets and administer their estate. Without this document, the administrator will not be able to sell their property and they may not even be able to close their bank accounts.

Contesting Probate Without A Will

If the person had no Will and you feel that they would have left you something if they had made a Will, you can make an Inheritance Act claim. The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 is

“An act to make fresh provision for empowering the court to make orders for the making out of the estate of a deceased person of provision for the spouse, former spouse, child, child of the family or dependant of that person; and for matters connected therewith.”

In simple terms, the act ensures when a person passes away, every beneficiary earns a provision. A beneficiary is anyone who receives something in a Will. Inheritance Act claims are claims certain categories of people make against the estate of a deceased person.

These people are:

  • A spouse/civil partner of the deceased
  • A former spouse/civil partner
  • Children of the deceased, including children or adoption or those reasonably brought into a family
  • Financial dependants of the deceased
  • In certain cases, cohabitees

How We Can Help

Here at The Inheritance Experts we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with all manner of inheritance claims. This includes Inheritance Act claims. So contact us today by filling in our contact form or by calling us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

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