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When planning for the future, it is essential that your Will and any other provisions you make are carefully tailored to your personal and financial circumstances. This is especially true if you have high value and complex assets to consider, and where you are keen to minimise your estate’s tax liabilities.
At IBB Solicitors, our Wills, Trusts and Probate team are highly experienced in advising medium and high net worth clients, with particular expertise in handling estates worth in excess of £1 million. With a broad range of skills in legal, financial and tax planning matters, we are able to offer highly effective inheritance and lifetime planning services for even the most complicated estates and individual issues.
We can work hand-in-hand with your accountants and financial advisers to provide a seamless service covering all of your personal lifetime planning requirements, including dealing with concerns such as Inheritance Tax (IHT), Capital Gains Tax (CGT), business interests, international assets, care fees and complex family relationships.
Taking a sensitive, personal approach, we will listen to your concerns and advise you on all of the issues you need to consider. Our aim is to give you peace of mind that every detail is accounted for while adding real value to your family wealth.
Why choose IBB Solicitors?
The Wills, Trusts and Probate team is headed by Partner Jacqueline Almond who is highly experienced in advising clients from a range of backgrounds, including High Net Worth Individuals with complex assets.
Jacqueline is ranked Band 1 in Private Wealth Law for High Net Worth clients in Watford, Uxbridge and the surrounding area by leading client guide Chambers & Partners, while the department is ranked Band 2 in the same category.
Jacqueline is also recognised as a Leading Individual in Personal Tax, Trusts and Probate by the Legal 500 for in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Middlesex, with the department being ranked Band 1.
STEP is a highly regarded global association for legal professionals specialising in family inheritance and succession planning, with membership being achieved through the completion of rigorous training and examination. These memberships therefore represent a strong mark of the quality of our legal expertise and practice in the area of inheritance law.
We are also members of the Law Society’s Wills & Inheritance Quality Scheme and our team includes members of the Law Society’s Private Client Section and Solicitors for the Elderly, further demonstrating the strength of our legal expertise as well as our commitment to providing the very best service to our clients.
How we can help you
In addition to helping you to make a new Will or amend an existing Will, we are also experts in:
Inheritance Tax planning
Inheritance Tax (IHT) can make a big difference to how much of your estate passes to your beneficiaries when you pass away. We can advise you on how IHT rules will apply to your estate and where there are opportunities to reduce your estate’s tax burden e.g. through efficient use of nil-rate bands, gifts, trusts and other options.
Our team includes chartered accountant and specialist tax adviser Sabrina Bruce, allowing us to offer an exceptional blend of legal and financial expertise in this complex area.
Inheritance planning for unmarried couples
Unmarried couples have no automatic legal right to each other’s estates, meaning that if you do not have an up-to-date Will in place, you run the risk of you or your partner being left in financial difficulties should one of you predecease the other. It is therefore particularly important for unmarried couples to have clear, legally robust plans in place for how your estates will be dealt with should one of you pass away.
Our team can advise you on all of your legal options and the issues you need to consider, including the terms under which you own your shared home, providing for any children you have together and separately, life interests in property and what should happen if you one of you loses the capacity to manage your personal affairs in the future.
Lasting Powers of Attorney
When making a Will, it is also a good time to think about what would happen if you were to ever lose the capacity to make decisions about your finances, property, health and wellbeing.
We can assist you with creating a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) that allows you to nominate one or more people to assist you with making these types of important decisions if this ever becomes necessary in the future.
Find out more about our Lasting Power of Attorney services.
By storing your Will for you, we can provide assurance that it can be easily accessed when needed, making the process of dealing with your estate much simpler for your loved ones.
Acting as professional Executors
Our Wills, Trusts & Probate team regularly act as professional Executors and estate administrators for both simple and more complex estates and probate matters.
You can appoint us as sole Executors if you want us to deal with the probate process for your estate or we can act as joint Executors alongside a loved one, allowing us to provide our expertise and support to them during probate.
Where there is a dispute over the contents of a Will or the way an estate is to be divided, our contentious probate experts can advise and represent you.
In most cases, we are able to resolve inheritance disputes without the need for court proceedings by negotiating a voluntary settlement. This will typically save you time and money, as well as unnecessary stress and damage to family relationships.
Find out more about our contentious probate services.
10 things to consider when making a Will
When making a Will, you will need to appoint one or more ‘executors’ who will be responsible for administering your estate when you pass away. It is normal to name at least two executors and you can name up to four. They will typically be close family members or friends and it is also common to name a solicitor or other professional as one of your executors, especially for high value and/or complex estates.
Depending on the nature of your estate, it may also be necessary to appoint one or more special executors e.g. a business executor or literary executor to deal with specific matters that require specialist expertise.
If you wish to set up a trust, either during your lifetime or as a provision of your Will, you will need to choose trustees to manage the trust assets and income. Being a trustee is a serious responsibility, so it is important to choose people with the necessary expertise, time and personal qualities to effectively carry out this demanding role.
Making individual gifts
Giving gifts to family and friends during your lifetime can allow you to reduce your estate’s Inheritance Tax liability, but this can get complicated as there are strict rules for which kinds of gifts are exempt from Inheritance Tax (IHT).
In general, you can give cash or assets with a total combined value of up to £3,000 each year, which is known as your ‘annual exemption’. Other gifts that may be tax exempt include general gifts worth less than £250, wedding gifts (worth up to £5000 for a child, £2,500 for a grandchild or great-grandchild, or £1000 or anyone else), gifts towards a dependant’s living costs and gifts from surplus income.
Additionally, any gift made more than 7 years before you pass away will normally not count as part of your estate for Inheritance Tax purposes. Any non-exempt gift made in the 3 years before your death will be charged the full rate of Inheritance Tax (currently 40%), while non-exempt gifts made 3-7 years before your death will taxed from 8-32% according to a sliding scale known as ‘taper relief’.
Nominating guardians for children
Where you have children under 18 or vulnerable adult children, you should consider who would care for them should both parents pass away. You can nominate one or more guardians in your Will or in a separate ‘guardian statement’.
It is important to choose guardians with the time and resources to provide the care your children will need, as well as considering who is best suited to safeguard their emotional wellbeing.
Making charitable gifts
Gifts to charities from your estate won’t count towards the total taxable value of your estate for Inheritance Tax. Such gifts will not be liable for IHT and they can also reduce the overall Inheritance Tax liability of your estate. If you leave at least 10% of your net estate to charity, your IHT rate will be reduced from 40% to 36%.
Setting up Will trusts
It often makes sense to include provision in your Will for one or more types of trusts to be
set up to protect specific assets or to provide for loved ones.
Common types of Will trusts you may wish to consider are:
Life interest trusts – Giving someone a ‘life interest’ in an asset (usually a property), means they can benefit from the asset during their lifetime while allowing the asset to pass to other beneficiaries when the beneficiary of the life interest dies.
Life interests are commonly used to allow a spouse or partner to continue to live in your family home after your death, with the property then passing to your children when your spouse/partner passes away.
Discretionary trusts – Allow the trustees to decide how to spend the trust income (and sometimes the capital held in the trust as well). They are often used to provide for children, grandchildren and other dependants under 18 as well as vulnerable adults whose financial needs cannot always be accurately predicted in advance.
Trusts for vulnerable beneficiaries – This type of trust is specifically intended to provide for the needs of someone under 18 or who is disabled and is unable to manage their own affairs. Trusts for vulnerable beneficiaries can qualify for special tax treatment, increasing the effective value of the assets they contain and the income they provide.
Dealing with estate residue
The estate residue is what is left after all debts, expenses, tax liabilities and any specific bequests have been accounted for. Your Will should specify who the estate residue should be left to and how it should be divided if it is to be split between multiple people.
Should you fail to account for your estate residue in your Will, it will be dealt with under the rules of intestacy, meaning it could pass to people you would not have intended.
While it is not something anyone wants to think about, it is worth considering what would happen to your estate should your main beneficiaries die at the same time as you, for example, in a car accident.
Including a disaster clause in your Will allows you to specify how your estate should be dealt with in such tragic circumstances, with common options including leaving your estate to charity.
Updating your Will upon marriage, separation or divorce
Should you get married, any Will you made prior to your marriage will be considered invalid. Were you to die without making a new Will, your estate would then be dealt with under intestacy rules, meaning your spouse would inherit all or most of your estate.
In the event of separation or divorce, it is a good idea to update your Will as soon as possible. You do not need to wait for a divorce to be final before doing so and it is recommended not to wait as otherwise, should you pass away, your former spouse may be your main beneficiary even if this is likely not what you would have intended.
Minimising the risk of inheritance disputes
One of the most important reasons to make a Will is to avoid inheritance disputes between your loved ones after you are gone. A well-drafted Will can significantly reduce the likelihood of such disputes by making your wishes clear and ensuring there are no questions over the validity of the Will.
However, it is also recommended to discuss your plans for your estate with your loved ones so that the contents of your Will don’t come as a surprise when you pass away. In many cases, it is the difference between people’s expectations and what they actually receive that leads to disputes, so making sure people know what they will inherit in advance can avoid this.
Before your first meeting with our team, you may find it helpful to complete our Will Questionnaire. If you have any questions about this, we will be happy to discuss this with you over the phone or by email before your appointment.