Dutton Gregory has a team of dedicated specialists in the Private Client Department. We are committed to providing friendly, considerate and practical advice to help you and your family plan effectively for the future in an efficient and sympathetic manner.
Each member of our team can advise on the following areas of expertise:
- Powers of Attorney and Court of Protection matters
- Estate/Wealth Tax Planning
- Estate Administration
- Contentious Probate
Why make a Will?
By making a Will you can
- choose who will receive your assets on you death
- choose who will administer your estate and act as executor
- appoint a guardian to bring up your children until they are 18
- save tax in certain circumstances
- protect assets for future generations
We can advise on the key decisions to make in making your Will and how to reduce the likelihood of it being challenged on your death.
Lasting Powers of Attorney and Court of Protection
If you were to lose your mental capacity with no Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place, your affairs would be handled by a Deputy appointed by the Court of Protection. This can be a lengthy and expensive process.
By making and LPA you can appoint someone of your choice to look after your affairs and give guidance on how it should be used. They come in two forms:-
A Property and Affairs LPA - enables the attorney to make financial decisions such as operating a bank account, dealing with tax affairs, claiming benefits and buying and selling property
A Health and Welfare LPA - enables the attorney to make decisions about where you live, consenting to or refusing medical treatment on your behalf
We can help you consider the options and if an LPA is not possible we can arrange for a Deputy to be appointed through the Court.
Estate/Wealth Tax Planning
By careful arrangement of your affairs it is often possible to save considerable amounts of tax.
For example, where the value of a person’s estate exceeds the so called nil rate band (currently £325,000) Inheritance Tax ('IHT') may be payable at 40% on the excess over this figure. However gifts between spouses or civil partners are generally exempt
We can advise on the various reliefs and exemptions that are available including the use of trusts.
When a person dies, someone has to take charge of dealing with their estate. If there is a Will, this will usually be the executors but if there is no Will the intestacy provisions set out who is entitled to the estate.
We can help with obtaining a Grant of Probate (if there is a Will) or a Grant of Letters of Administration (if not) and complete the necessary forms. We can advise on the process to be followed, the pitfalls of being an executor and how to avoid them and to alert you to any tax planning opportunities that may arise in the course of administration.
Challenges to Wills are becoming increasingly common.
First there may be a challenge concerning the circumstances in which the Will was signed:
- Was the Will signed and witnessed properly?
- Did the person signing the Will (‘the Testator’) know what they were signing?
- Was the Testatator of sound mind?
- Did someone apply undue influence (coercion) to the Testator to leave their property in a particular way?
Even if the Will is valid certain persons can make a claim for reasonable financial provision from the Will. Similarly, where there is no Will and the intestacy provisions apply those may be open to challenge in the same way. In the absence of special circumstances claims have to be made within six months of a Grant being issued.
What is a trust and why make one?
A trust is an arrangement enforceable in the courts whereby the person creating the trust (the settlor) hands over control of assets either during their lifetime or on their death to others (the trustees) who administer the trust for the benefit of certain defined individuals (the beneficiaries).
Examples of common uses of trusts include:
- protection of assets for future generations
- tax planning
- protection of vulnerable people including personal injury trusts
Help for Elderly Clients
We have long experience of helping elderly people and their families with the management of their affairs. This may include all or any of the following:
- Powers of Attorney
- Living Wills
- Management of your affairs
If you have any queries about any of the above please let us know.