By Allison Crossman
Private Client is viewed by many as somewhat of an old fashioned legal services term, but it seems to have ‘stuck’ so far as solicitors are concerned.
Perhaps a more descriptive and accurate phrase, albeit less punchy might be ‘family and wealth protection’. It certainly sums up nicely what our team is about.
This encompasses areas including:
- Powers of Attorney
- Administration of Estates (Probate)
- Contentious trusts and probate
- Court of Protection
- Tax planning
- Wealth protection
The figure of 60% of the UK population dying without a Will remains a damning statistic. Family and friends have enough emotional and administrative burdens, without having the stress and uncertainty arising from dying intestate. In short, why let the law dictate what happens to your property and possessions when you die, when a Will can do it for you? You can read our note on why you need a Will.
We would always recommend a specialist lawyer to draw up your Will. Yes, it is more expensive than a DIY alternative, but we are talking hundreds, rather than thousands of pounds, and likely to be a fraction of the size of your overall estate. You also gain valuable peace of mind that those left behind can deal with your affairs efficiently and as you intended.
We are receiving an increasing number of requests for Lifestyle Wills, designed to give extra protection, and sometimes some tax savings, over and above simple Wills. These Wills suit everyone’s lifestyles because they provide flexibility for future generations so that the assets in your Estate can be managed according to the needs of your family at the relevant time.
On a related note, bear in mind a Will Writer might appear on the surface an attractive option, but note that they are not regulated, may not be insured and so will not be liable for any claim should an issue arise once the Will has been executed.
Tax advice often goes hand-in-hand with Will drafting. The effect of house price inflation, and the threshold at which inheritance tax kicks in remaining at £325,000, means even those with modest estates may be liable for 40% IHT, unless some simple tax planning is undertaken. One example, by way of illustration, is a Spousal By-pass Trust.
As people live longer, issues surrounding dementia continue to increase. A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) enables others, appointed by you, to make decisions about your health/welfare and finance/property should you lose the ability to make these decisions for yourself. Understandably the subject is not one easily raised in many families. Sadly we often come across situations where for the person concerned, it is already too late to make an LPA. Consequently, someone (usually a family member) would have to apply to the Court of Protection for permission to deal with your finances. It is for the Court to decide on whether that person is suitable. The process can be slow, costly and involve a great deal of paperwork including disclosure of finances and evidence of mental incapacity.
The period following the death of a relative is a difficult time for anyone. We are able to advise on every aspect of funeral arrangements, registration of the death and dealing with HM Coroner, ascertaining beneficial entitlements, dealing with insolvent estates and dealing with different types of Grant of Probate. We offer a complete or partial estate administration service, depending on how much the other estate executor(s) are able to take on themselves.
Sadly, disputes do arise after someone dies, either about Wills, trusts or how the estate is to be distributed. It is a specialist area of the law, known as contentious trust & probate and TWM has such a team in place to help.
In summary, private client services provide protection from future events, some of which may arise eg dementia and others, like taxes, which are unavoidable! Consider these services more like an insurance policy, but with the benefit of not having to be renewed each year! If you are unsure about what to do next, you can speak to one of our private client team, without cost or obligation. Alternatively, your IFA can provide initial guidance in the overall context of your financial position.
Allison Crossman is Head of Private Cient.
For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org