Wills, Probate, Tax and Trusts Solicitors in Liverpool & London
From the moment you turn 18 years of age and buy your first home, from the day you become a parent, from the moment you enter into a long term relationship, from the day you marry, from the time you need to plan for your children’s university fees, from the moment you decide to retire, whenever health issues threaten to affect your ability to manage your affairs, throughout the decades of your retirement and eventually following your ultimate death and the need to then ‘finalise’ your affairs and distribute to beneficiaries….the Private Client Department of Gregory Abrams Davidson Solicitors are able to advise and offer constructive solutions to ensure at all times that any of the aforementioned issues are appropriately covered by the appropriate and relevant legal paperwork.
Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Trusts, Court of Protection and Deputyship and Probate & Estate Administration
The Private Client Department has a ‘title’ that does not necessarily shout out ‘it does what it says on the tin’. Some firms use specific terms like ‘Elder Law’ or ‘Probate Administration’. The former however suggests that only elderly people need to approach our department and the later appears to suggest that you need to be dead before Gregory Abrams Davidson Solicitors should become involved with you and your family.
Nothing can be further from the truth.
In fact, throughout everyone’s life, specific events will occur to an individual when legal protection for both them and for the benefit of their loved ones is essential. As people’s financial affairs alter and their relationships develop and change for the better and worse, attention to the multitude of over-lapping disciplines and legal issues need to be constantly addressed, reviewed and often updated. The Department is highly experienced and qualified to assist with numerous issues that will be relevant from time to tie throughout your life, including:
Ensuring that your estate passes in the most tax efficient manner to your loved ones and ensuring by implication that it does not inadvertently pass to long lost and distant relatives under the Intestacy Rules (applicable when you die without a Will). A Will also guarantees that the right person is appointed to actually administer the estate (the ‘Executor’) and can provide instructions in respect of funeral wishes and ensure the appointment of a Guardian for minor children. Outright gifts may not be desirable and Will Trusts can be established to provide for an individual’s benefit during their lifetime (essential for a vulnerable beneficiary) and thereafter to longstop beneficiaries who do not need ‘protection from themselves’. Likewise, the technical wording required to ensure the Will passes the correct asset to the correct beneficiary means ‘home made’ wills are a ‘cheap and dangerous’ solution that will inevitably cost your estate and family considerable heartache and expense in attempting to rectify drafting errors. Whilst current Inheritance Tax rates mean that many married couples will only pay tax if their estate is valued over £1 million (from the 2020/21 tax year) properly drafted wills and asset restructuring upon the first death of a married couple can provide an excellent opportunity to ring fence 50+% of the estate against care home fees.
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA)
Whilst death is an inevitable event everyone will ultimately face, loss of capacity either through accident or illness is more of a ‘lottery’. Public awareness of dementia is at an all-time high. There are few people however who have not been touched personally by this problem either due to elderly parents or a personal medical diagnosis that means a future loss of capacity is potentially around the corner. LPA’s are like a bricks and mortar building insurance policy. You place the latter in place in case your house were to burn to the ground. You should have an LPA in place in case you lose capacity. The LPA enables you to delegate to and appoint Attorneys who can manage your Financial and Health affairs in accordance with your express wishes and directions and at all times in your ‘best interest’. Don’t leave it too late that your family is attending our office to advise you have been placed in a care home with dementia and could they organise an LPA to sell the house and pay your fees – by this time, you will have almost certainly ‘missed the boat’ and without capacity the only option will be for the family to pursue the expensive and long winded Court of Protection application for the appointment of a Deputy over your financial affairs.
Often considered the province of MP’s and Non-Domiciled Tax Exile’s, Trusts can be an excellent way of passing wealth to family in a structured, controlled and tax efficient manner. The Trust can be a Bare Trust, a Life Interest Trust, a Discretionary Trust or a Personal Injury Trust (there are in fact numerous other trusts and often hybrid trusts that take a little for one or other of the above mentioned ‘common’ trusts). Be it a property purchase by an unmarried couple wishing to regulate their ownership and unequal contributions to the purchase price, a parent wishing to provide an income to a vulnerable child with the ultimate transfer of capital wealth to grandchildren upon the child’s eventual death or the ‘ring-fencing’ of medical negligence and personal injury damages from any future means testing by the DWP or Local Authority, the Trust mechanism may be the practical solution to the problem voiced by a client.
Sadly, applications to the Court of Protection for the appointment of a Deputy are a direct consequence of a person’s failure to put their affairs in order when they had capacity by making a Lasting Power of Attorney. Unfortunately, just as people are hesitant to make a Will, a general reluctance exists to anticipate that lack of capacity may one day be an issue that should be addressed when perfectly fit and well. However, if you faced with a relative that can no longer manage their affairs and you need to access their finances to pay bills, sell a house and organise care home contracts, then Gregory Abrams Davidson Solicitors can navigate you through the entire Court of Protection process form the beginning, in obtaining the correct medical report, to the ultimate issue of the order appointing you as Deputy. Thereafter, we are able to provide ongoing services in the form of ‘ad hoc’ applications to make tax-efficient gifts, replace Trustees on co-owned property and were appropriate consider Statutory Wills to ensure any old Will is brought up to date (if applicable) or to have one written when none exists (imperative if the ‘right’ beneficiary would not inherit under the Intestacy Rules e.g. a long term partner that is not recognised by the law as a beneficiary unless specifically named as such within a Will)
Probate and Estate Administration
Eventually, death creeps up upon us all. The deceased’s financial affairs in the form of assets held and any liabilities existing need to be ‘tidied up’. Taxes in the form of outstanding lifetime Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax need to be cleared and any Inheritance Tax arising upon death needs to be calculated and paid. The terms of a Will or if none exists the Intestacy Rules needs to be reviewed and applied to determine the correct beneficiaries and the inheritance to be received. Trusts for minor beneficiaries and those inheriting under conditions need to be run and ultimate distribution made once final estate accounts have been prepared and approved by the Executors. Very simple administrations may see Gregory Abrams Davidson Solicitors being instructed solely to complete the relevant IHT205 or IHT400 Tax Return and prepare and submit the relevant probate application to the Probate Court upon a fixed fee basis. More complex estates (either due to the number of beneficiaries, the conditions attaching to the gifts, the different tax status of various beneficiaries, disagreements amongst beneficiaries upon how matters should be progressed or the value of the estate) will see Gregory Abrams Davidson Solicitors undertaking all relevant aspects of the administration from beginning to final distribution within our transparent and clear charging structure.
Contact our expert private client solicitors in Liverpool & London today
Our Private Client Department offers clear transparency in respect of legal fees. Please refer to our Costs Table which details all areas of law covered by the department and a comprehensive breakdown of the fees payable.
Our experienced private client solicitors can guide you through all of the overlapping disciplines and legal aspects involving the organisation of your financial and welfare needs for the benefit of yourself and your loved ones throughout all stages of your life and following your eventual death. Contact us today for specialist advice.