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  • What is a homemade will?

    There are strict formalities which must be observed when making a will. It is quite possible to make your own will, but if it does not conform to these legal rules then it is likely to be declared invalid and you will then be regarded as having died ‘intestate’ (i.e. without leaving a valid will).

    If you do die without leaving a valid will, it means that the assets in your estate will be dealt with according to the provisions set out in the relevant legislation. In other words, the law will determine what will happen to your assets and it will be beyond your control.

    Therefore, it is worth seeking professional advice on the preparation of your will to ensure it is valid, so that your wishes will be given effect when you ultimately pass away.

    At Hutton’s, our lawyers have many years of experience in preparing all kinds of wills, including straightforward wills leaving modest assets all to one person or the more complex kind involving foreign property and extensive business assets.

    Whatever your circumstances, you will receive comprehensive advice and an expertly drafted will, tailored to meet your specific needs.

  • How much does a will cost?

    We recommend that you contact us to discuss your requirements as Wills can be complicated and your personal circumstances will need to be considered as part of the same.

  • What shall I do with my home?

    Your home is likely to be the most significant purchase you will make during your lifetime.

    It will probably be the most valuable asset in your estate when you pass away. It is therefore important to think about what you want to happen to your home when you pass away.

    What happens to your home when you do pass away will depend on a number of things. If you hold the legal title to the property with another person, perhaps your spouse or civil partner, then it may be that your home will pass to that person under what is known as the ‘Rule of Survivorship’.

    This will happen if you hold the property as ‘joint tenants’. What this means is that you both own the whole of the property together. When one of you dies, the other is then the sole owner of the whole of the property.

    The other way you may hold property with other people is as ‘tenants in common’. This is where you each have a divisible share of the property. In this case, if you were to die first, your share forms part of your estate and will pass to your beneficiaries according to the wishes expressed in your will (if you have made one).

    There are a number of issues to think about when deciding what to do with your property.

    You may, for instance, be the sole owner of a house which you share with your significant other, who is not your spouse or civil partner. If you have children, you may to allow your significant other to stay in the property when you die, but ultimately you want your children to inherit it.

    At Hutton’s, our experts will discuss your individual circumstances with you and carefully consider all of your options when advising you on what to do with your home and all of the other important issues concerning the preparation of your will.

  • How do I make a will for someone who has lost capacity?

    As we grow older, many of us will start to struggle with the more demanding aspects of daily life. Sadly, some of us will lose the capacity to make important decisions about matters that can have a far-reaching effect.

    If there is someone you care about who hasn’t made a will and they have reached a stage in life where they are no longer able to understand the implications of making one, there are steps which you might be able to take to help them.

    An application can be made to the Court of Protection for a Statutory Will to be made on behalf of your loved ones if they lack the capacity to make a will themselves.

    The terms of any such will must be in the best interests of the person on whose behalf the application is made. If that person has expressed any wishes or feelings about what they would like to happen to their assets in the event of their death, the court will take this into account in deciding what should be done.

    A similar procedure applies if a person who lacks the necessary capacity has made a will, but an application is required in order to make an amendment which is felt necessary.

    At Hutton’s, we have the required knowledge and experience to assist you with making a Statutory Will for a loved one, and will guide you through the process every step of the way.

  • Can my will be changed after I die?

    Here in the UK, we enjoy fairly unrestricted freedom to dispose of our assets in our wills in whatever way we wish. However, that freedom is not absolute.

    Sometimes, not all of the wishes you may express in your will can be carried out. For instance, the executors you appoint to deal with the administration of your estate may decline to accept the role; your beneficiaries may reject any gifts which you decide to make to them.

    In some cases, there may be individuals who feel disappointed that you have excluded them from your will. These people can potentially make a claim against your estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

    Under this legislation, it is possible for certain categories of people to make claims against your estate on the basis that you have not made reasonable financial provision for them.

    But there are sometimes good reasons for changing a will. For example, the rules relating to the way certain assets are treated for tax purposes may change in between the making of your will and your passing away.

    In such circumstances, it is possible to effect a post-death variation to achieve tax savings which will benefit those to whom you wish to leave your estate.

    It is therefore important for you to obtain proper advice on the preparation of your will, including the possibility that your assets may be dealt with differently from how you would prefer.

    At Hutton’s, our lawyers have many years of experience in advising on and preparing all kinds of wills, no matter how straightforward or complicated.

    Whatever your circumstances, you will receive comprehensive advice and an expertly drafted will, tailored to meet your specific needs.

  • What happens to my will if I get married or divorced?

    More and more people are deciding not to get married or become civil partners, instead settling into long-term relationships with their loved ones and seeing no need to ‘tie the knot’.

    However, it is important to bear in mind that if you make a will and subsequently do get married or become civil partners, your will could be automatically revoked unless it includes a clause which ensures it will continue to be valid.

    For those who do get married or become civil partners, divorce or dissolution will also have an impact on your will.

    Generally, if your marriage or civil partnership does come to an end your will shall remain valid but your ex-spouse or civil partner will be treated as though he or she had died when the marriage or partnership ended. Any clauses in the will which appoint him or her as your executor or give any property away to him or her, will therefore be null and void.

    At Hutton’s, our lawyers have many years of experience in preparing all kinds of wills. Whatever your circumstances, you will receive comprehensive advice and an expertly drafted will, tailored to meet your specific needs.

  • Will there be any Inheritance Tax to pay?

    Inheritance Tax (or ‘IHT’) is a tax charged by the government on the estate of any deceased person where the value of the assets in estate exceeds the relevant threshold, which is currently set at £325,000.

    The value of the estate below £325,000 is often called the “nil rate band” allowance (or ‘NRB’).

    In simple terms, IHT is normally charged at 40% and applies to the value of the assets in your estate above the NRB. Many of these assets may already have been subject to other tax payments (e.g. income tax or capital gains tax) during your lifetime.

    Since October 2007, the Personal Representatives of the estate of a surviving spouse (i.e. a widow or widower) have been able to transfer any remaining NRB allowance which the first spouse to die did not use. This has the effect of increasing the amount of the estate which is protected from IHT.

    This potentially allows a married couple or a couple in a civil partnership to pass on assets valued at up to £650,000 before any IHT becomes payable. At present, the option of transferring your significant other’s unused NRB allowance does not extend to other couples.

    If the value of your estate is likely to be greater than the NRB allowance (or combined allowances if you’re married or in a civil partnership) then you should consider lifetime tax-planning options in order to reduce the IHT which your estate may otherwise have to pay.

    At Hutton’s, we will discuss the options open to you and suggest ways in which you can ensure that your loved ones receive the maximum possible benefit when you pass away.

    You will receive detailed advice on how best to plan ahead and an expertly drafted will, tailored to meet your specific needs.

  • Who will look after my children?

    Nobody expects to leave this world before they get to see their children grow up.

    However, if you were to pass away while your children were still very young, you would want to know that the people you trust most would be able to step into your shoes and take care of them.

    It is possible to appoint a guardian in your will to take responsibility for your children when you are gone, and this will enable them to take important decisions in relation to their day-to-day care, education and general welfare.

    You may also want to consider setting up a trust under your will which will provide the guardian with the financial means to ensure that your children get the best possible upbringing.

    At Hutton’s, we will guide you through these important decisions and will explain clearly all of the issues you need to consider when it comes to the preparation of your will.

    You will receive detailed advice on how best to plan ahead and an expertly drafted will, tailored to meet your specific needs.

  • Who should be my executors?

    When you make your will, you will need to consider who will deal with your estate and carry out your wishes after you’re gone.

    The people you choose to do this are called your ‘executors’.

    They are appointed in your will to take control of your assets and administer your estate according to your instructions.

    You need to think carefully about whom you want to appoint.

    If you don’t appoint any executors or if your appointed executors cannot accept the role, your various family members will be entitled to apply for a Grant of Probate which would allow them to administer your estate (there is legislation which sets out the order of entitlement). This can lead to disputes between your loved ones, so it best to consider this issue carefully and appoint suitable persons to act as your executors in your will.

    The role of an executor is one of great responsibility. It can also be an onerous job, so it is important to consider whether those whom you choose to appoint will be able to take on the role.

    How many?

    Most people appoint two individuals to act as their executors: this not only allows the burden of administering the estate to be shared, but also ensures greater security because the one executor’s actions will be checked by the other and vice versa.

    In some circumstances, there are legal requirements for two persons to be appointed to deal with your assets (for example, if your will creates a ‘trust’ over any real property you own at the time of your death then two ‘trustees’ are usually required by law in order to sell the property).

    It is therefore common for executors to also be appointed to act as the trustees of any trusts created by someone’s will.

    ‘Trusts’ exist where one or more persons hold property on behalf of and for the benefit of another or others. Those who hold the property are known as ‘trustees’. Trusts can be expressly created (in a will, for instance) or they can come into effect by operation of the law.

    For example, if you died without leaving a will and had only one living relative who was a child at the time, the law would require trustees to be appointed to hold the property on behalf of the child because minors (those under 18) cannot legally hold real property.

    Whom to choose

    If your estate is modest and uncomplicated, it may be appropriate to appoint close family members or friends to act as your executors; but if your estate is large and complicated, it may be more suitable to appoint professionals.

    At Hutton’s, we have all the experience required to administer estates, large and small, and are often appointed as executors in our clients’ wills.

    As well as handling the routine administration of smaller estates for many of our clients, we also deal with vast, complex estates, including those with assets in other countries, on a daily basis.

    In addition to acting as executors ourselves, we also act for executors, taking care of the often time-consuming and stressful tasks which flow from the death of a loved one, allowing our clients to get on with their own lives, comfortable in the knowledge that the administration of the estate is in safe hands.

  • What will happen to my foreign property?

    If any of your assets are located overseas, different rules may affect how they are treated when you pass away.

    If you hold any interests in land in another country, the law of that country will determine what will happen to it at the time of your passing.

    Other property will be dealt with according to the law of the place in which you are domiciled at the time. Your domicile can depend on a number of things and is not automatically the place where you were born, where you may have lived the longest in the past or where you currently live (although you will be regarded as domiciled in a particular place if you now live there and intend to stay there).

    In some jurisdictions, there are strict laws which mean that some of your foreign property will have to be left to certain family members.

    Some people feel it is necessary to have two wills: one dealing with their UK assets and another which disposes of their foreign property.

    This is a matter of personal choice, but with proper research and careful drafting it is entirely possible to draft your will in a way which complies with both the law here and in the country or countries in which your foreign property is located.

    At Hutton’s, we will guide you through the preparation of your will and explain clearly all of the relevant issues about which you need to be aware.

    You will receive detailed advice on how best to plan ahead. We will ensure that your wishes are achieved through estate planning and an expertly drafted will, tailored to meet your specific needs.