Our Private Client Department at A R Brown & Co has been providing a sympathetic and personal service to people in Worthing and the surrounding areas for almost 40 years.
Our experienced team will explain your options, in addition to any rights and entitlements you may have in order to assist you make the best decision to suit your particular circumstances.
They carefully guide and support you through all the relevant procedures to help you reach a satisfactory and fair conclusion of your matter.
Our lawyers have a wealth of experience specialising purely in this area of law.
Our office is on the ground floor, situated with easy access for wheelchair users. Where necessary, we are happy to visit clients in their homes or hospital.
Our services include providing advice and assistance in connection with a number of areas, which you can see below.
Making your Will
The management of your personal assets and finances during your lifetime and upon your death is very important to ensure that tax liability is kept to a minimum and that your dependents are provided for in accordance with your wishes. A legally valid Will, together with the grant of Probate will ensure that those assets remaining after death pass safely to those persons you wish to benefit from your estate. It also allows you to make provision for your estate to be carefully managed when you are no longer around to oversee it.
The main benefits of making a Will
A will allows you to decide who benefits from your estate. If you die without making a will, the law dictates who is a beneficiary of your estate.
A will allows you to appoint someone you trust as an executor to administer your estate and deal with your affairs after you die.
A will allows you to make financial provision for your children and appoint guardians to ensure that they are looked after during their childhood.
In certain circumstances such as above, you may need to create a trust. We can advise you whether this is beneficial and what you need to do to create the trust.
It is particularly important to make a will if you are not married to your partner to ensure provision is made for them. This is because unmarried partners are not entitled to anything from your estate unless it is set out in your will. This applies even if you have been together for years.
A will allows you to set out your funeral arrangements.
A will allows you to leave a gift to a charity that you wish to support or wish to continue to support after you die.
A will allows you to make sure your digital assets are protected after you die.
We can advise you on the inheritance tax that may be payable and the latest developments in this area, which may affect the tax payment that needs to be made, which affects the distributions to be made from your estate.
What happens if an executor does not comply with their duty to follow the Will?
The executor of an estate is legally bound to administer and distribute the estate in accordance with the provisions set out in the will. Therefore, it is extremely important that they understand what their obligations are and what steps they are required to take to wind up the estate.
If they fail to comply with their obligation the beneficiaries can require them to account to them, take steps to have them removed or replaced or, if it is considered necessary, to hold them personally to account to the estate.
If you require assistance in this respect then please contact Deborah Francis.
Probate and Estate Administration
When you die your estate assets are frozen. It is often necessary to apply for a Grant of Probate to unfreeze and redistribute the estate. This is a legal document that gives the personal representatives the authority they require to finalise your affairs.
Applying for the Grant and dealing with the administration of an estate is often time consuming and at times complicated. This can be stressful during what is already difficult time having just lost a loved one.
Our team at A R Brown have years of experience in handling the administration and winding up of someone’s affairs after they have died, including high value and complicated estates where disputes have arisen. We can provide assistance in connection with Deeds of Variation, which are permitted within 2 years of the date of death, allowing the beneficiaries to rearrange the distributions to be made from the estate.
We can provide assistance with all aspects of probate and estate administration which include:
- Obtaining valuations of the deceased assets.
- Collecting the assets and arranging for them to be sold if necessary.
- Clearing and selling property.
- Identifying and paying any outstanding liabilities and debts.
- Calculating the liability of inheritance tax on the estate and arranging for it to be paid.
- Preparing estate accounts.
- Distributing the estate to the beneficiaries.
- Provide you with advice upon death in service benefits.
How long does it take to obtain a Grant of Probate?
When all the assets and liabilities of the estate have been identified and a valued and an account has been made to HMRC in respect of inheritance tax, the application for the Grant of Probate can be made. The Probate Registry can take around 8 weeks to issue the Grant of Probate.
Once the Grant has been received you can then proceed to finalise the estate. It can take around a year to finalise an estate. This can be shorter when it is a simple estate with few assets, or longer where an estate is large and complex with lots of assets that need to be sold.
What value does an estate have to be for a Grant of Probate to be required?
A Grant of Probate is not generally required to administer an estate where there is less than £5,000 and no property that needs to be sold.
Each bank has it own rules as to whether a Grant is required to release funds from the account which has been frozen before it is closed
If the person that has died owned a property a Grant of Probate will be required in order to sell or transfer the ownership of property.
This is where a person died without leaving a valid will. The estate then falls to be distributed in accordance with the law of intestacy.
Where a will has not been made, an application need to be made to the Probate Registry to obtain a Grant Letters of Administration, usually made in favour of close relatives, who are then provided with the authority they require to administer and distribute the estate in accordance with the intestacy rules.
Estate Planning: Trusts and Inheritance Tax Planning
Conscientious financial planning can help reduce your tax liability and increase your financial capabilities in life, while enabling you to secure the preservation of those finances after death.
Our team have extensive experience in estate planning and will be able to assist you to minimise the amount of tax that will be payable upon your death.
Efficient tax planning includes:
- Make a tax efficient Will.
- Utilise all Inheritance Tax exemptions that are available to you.
- Make gifts directly or by placing money or property into trusts.
How long do you have to pay inheritance tax?
Inheritance tax is due to be paid six months from the end of the month in which the person died. If payment is not paid by this date then interest will start to accrue on the amount that is outstanding.
What is a Declarations of Trust?
A declaration of trust is a legally binding document setting out how a property is owned when there is more than one owner.
When should a Declaration of Trust be used?
- When you are contributing towards the purchase price of a property.
- When you are purchasing a property with someone else.
- When you are moving into a property owned by someone else.
- A declaration generally contains sets out the following:
- The contributions each party has made to the purchase price.
- How much the parties have contributed towards the legal costs.
- What percentage each party owns.
- How much each party will contribute towards any mortgage payments.
- How either may buy the other party’s share in the property.
- How the proceeds of the sale will be divided if the property is sold.
- Problems often arise when a relationship breaks down and there is no Declaration of Trust or when one owner wants to sell the property.
Lasting Power of Attorney
You may provide your authority to someone you trust to deal with your financial affairs and to make decisions relating to your personal health and welfare when you are unable to do so or have lost capacity to do so, by appointing them as your Attorney.
There are two kinds of Lasting Power.
- Financial affairs, and
- Health and personal welfare.
Our team can provide you with advice and assistance on how and who you can appoint as an Attorney, act as a certificate provider, and arrange for the document to be registered with the Public Guardians Office.
Our team can also provide advice and assistance to business clients who require a general power to deal with business interests.
Court of Protection
If a person does not have capacity to manage their own affairs, or loses their capacity, and does not have an Attorney in place, then our team can help by making an application to the Court of Protection for a Deputy to be appointed to manage their affairs.
The Court will appoint the Deputy to make decisions for them regarding their property, finances and health and welfare.
Our team can provide advice and assistance in making the application and support you in your ongoing role as Deputy.
Elderly Client Services
At A R Brown & Co, we recognise the importance of providing for the future. We deal with various aspects of planning for retirement and have extensive experience in providing a range of elderly client services. We aim at easing the legal and administrative burden which the protection of your assets may entail. It is important for us to make our advice comprehensive and transparent, without using unnecessary legal ‘jargon’.