Wills, Trust & Probate Solicitors & Law Guide
When it comes to securing your family's future and safeguarding your hard-earned assets, the world of wills, trusts, and probate law can be confusing.
Whether you're a parent looking to secure your children's future, a business owner considering succession planning, a sibling wondering what your rights are after a parents death or simply someone who wants to leave a lasting legacy, we're here to help you every step of the way.
What is Wills, Trusts, and Probate Law?
Wills, trusts, and probate law are legal areas that deal with planning for what will happen to your assets, property, and possessions after you pass away.
A will, also known as a "last will and testament," is a legal document where you say what you want to happen to your assets and property after you die. When you make a will, you oficially decide who gets what (such as your house, money, or other property), who takes care of your children if they are under 18, and who makes sure everything happens according to your wishes, including funeral and burial arrangements.
When you set up a trust you are putting your assets under the control of a trustee for the benefit of specific individuals or entities (the beneficiaries). People use trusts for many reasons like protecting loved ones financially, protecting assets, and reducing the amount of Inheritance Tax on their estate. There are different kinds of trusts, each with their own benefits and rules.
Probate is a legal process that happens when someone dies. It involves checking if there's a valid will, figuring out what the person owns and valuing their estate, paying off debts and taxes, and giving what's left to the people who should get it (beneficiaries). Probate makes sure the person's wishes are followed and that all the rules are followed.
A Solicitor's Role in Wills, Trusts, and Probate Law
A solicitor plays an important role in guiding individuals and families through wills, trusts, and probate law. Here’s what you can expect of a wills, trust and probate lawyer:
Assisting clients in creating and updating legally sound and comprehensive wills, witnessing the signing of a will, storing a will to prevent loss or tampering.
Assisting clients in creating the right type of trust, drafting trust deeds and associated legal documents, managing the trust's assets and distribution.
Acting as executors of a will or guiding appointed executors in their duties, assisting in preparing and filing the necessary paperwork to initiate the probate process, appraising assets and liabilities, working on behalf of the estate to settle outstanding debts and taxes, ensuring assets are distributed correctly, and managing disputes that may arise.
A solicitor's role in wills, trusts, and probate law is to provide expertise, legal guidance, and support to clients, ensuring that their wishes are carried out effectively, assets are protected, and all legal requirements are met.
How much does a wills, trust and probate solicitor cost?
The cost of a wills, trusts, and probate solicitor can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of your estate and the location and experience of the solicitor.
Trust and Estate Planning
Please note: the above is an estimate of how much a wills, trust and probate solicitor might cost. That being said, the only way to know how much your situation will cost is to get a quote from a solicitor.
Other factors to bear in mind when it comes to wills, trust and probate solicitor costs are their billing methods (for example, some solicitors may charge hourly rates or offer fixed fees for specific services), location, and the solicitor’s experience.
It's important to discuss fees and services with potential solicitors upfront and obtain quotes for your specific needs. Additionally, consider the value of professional legal guidance in relation to your case. While how much you should pay for a solicitor can vary, the expertise they provide can help prevent potential legal complications and provide peace of mind.
How To Find a Solicitor for Wills, Trusts, and Probate
Engaging a qualified solicitor is pivotal when dealing with wills, trusts, and probate. Here's why their expertise matters:
They Know The Law: Solicitors are legal experts who know all the rules and laws. They make sure your documents follow the law and can provide advice to help you make informed decisions.
Tailored for You: A solicitor can make sure your wishes are clear when making a will and help you select the right type of trust for your situation and goals.
No Mistakes: Solicitors stop common mistakes that can cause problems later. They make sure everything is done right and the probate process runs smoothly when the time comes.
Tricky Situations: Contentious probate is not uncommon and a solicitor can help you navigate how to handle the situation if a will is contested or challenged. They can also represent you in court if it comes down to it and advocate on your behalf.
How to Choose the Right Wills, Trust, and Probate Solicitor
Selecting the right wills, trust and probate solicitor is a critical decision. When you’re on the quest to find a wills, trust and probate lawyer to work with, consider the following:
Look for a solicitor who specialises in wills, trusts, and probate. Matters of this nature can be very sensitive and should be handled with care by a solicitor who understands your situation and goals. While many solicitors work across a range of areas of law, if your situation is specific to a certain area, it's best to consider their level of experience in handling cases similar to yours, especially if it looks to be contentious or complex. Experience often translates to efficiency and proficiency.
Client Reviews & Testimonials
Read reviews and testimonials from previous clients to gauge their satisfaction and experiences with the solicitor. You can also verify a solicitor's credentials by checking their SRA record.
Choose a solicitor who is transparent about fees and communication. You should have a clear understanding of the costs involved and how they'll keep you updated.
Personal compatibility matters. You should feel comfortable discussing sensitive matters with your solicitor and trust their guidance.
While some people specifically seek out local solicitors for wills, trusts and probate, there are many benefits to choosing an online solicitor to help with your situation. Efficiency and lower costs are two of the primary reasons more and more people are choosing to instruct wills, trust and probate solicitors online.
Recent Changes in UK Wills, Trusts, and Probate Law
Wills, trusts, and probate laws in the UK can undergo changes every now and then. It's essential to be aware of recent amendments and updates that may affect your will, estate planning or probate matters. Some recent changes might include:
Inheritance Tax Thresholds: Changes in inheritance tax thresholds and exemptions can impact the tax implications of your estate. As of September 2023, the Inheritance Tax Threshold is currently frozen until 2026.
Probate Fees: Updates in probate fees and regulations can affect the cost of administering an estate. On 26th January 2022, probate fees for issuing a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration increased to £273. Previously, non-professional (or personal) applicants were charged more than probate professionals to make application. This is no longer the case and all applicants pay the same fee.
Legal Formalities: Modifications in the legal formalities required for wills and trusts can impact how these documents are created and executed. For example, during the pandemic the ability to witness wills via video link was introduced and has since been extended until at least 31st January 2024.
Digital Assets: Evolving laws regarding digital assets may necessitate updates to estate planning documents to include online accounts and assets. In June 2023, the Law Commission of England and Wales published recommendations for reform and development of the law relating to digital assets like crypto-tokens and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). It is now for the government to decide whether it intends to take the recommendations moving forwards.
To stay current with legal regulations and updates in the field of wills, trusts, and probate, consider these online resources and legal news websites:
Gov.uk: The official UK government website provides information on changes in inheritance tax thresholds, probate fees, and other legal regulations. Many court applications can also be submitted through this website.
The Law Society: The Law Society of England and Wales often publishes updates and insights related to legal matters, including wills and probate.
Professional Associations: Check websites of professional associations like STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) for industry-specific updates and resources.
While online resources are a great way to keep up to date on changes to wills, trust and probate law, they are no replacement for the advice and guidance of a qualified UK solicitor. It's important to remember that the world moves quickly and information you find online may be out of date. It is essential to seek help from a solicitor before taking any legal steps to ensure you make an informed decision based on all of the facts and options available to you.
Wills, Trust and Probate FAQs
In this FAQ section, we'll address some of the common questions people have about wills, trusts, probate, and solicitors:
What is the primary purpose of a will?
A will, also known as a last will and testament, serves as a legal document that outlines your wishes for how your assets and possessions should be distributed after your passing. Its primary purpose is to ensure your assets go to the people or causes you care about most and to provide clear instructions to avoid disputes among your loved ones about inheritance rights.
What are the advantages of creating a trust?
Trusts offer several advantages, including asset protection, tax efficiency, probate avoidance, and control over asset distribution. They can be especially useful for managing complex or high-value assets and ensuring specific wishes are carried out efficiently.
When is probate necessary, and when is it not required?
Probate is necessary when someone passes away, and they own assets solely in their name. If assets were jointly owned, held in trusts, or had named beneficiaries (e.g., life insurance policies or retirement accounts), they typically bypass probate.
Can I write my own will, or should I seek professional help?
You can write your own will, often referred to as a DIY will. However, seeking professional help, such as a will writing solicitor, is advisable, especially if your situation is complex or if you want to ensure that your will is legally valid and covers all the areas you want it to. Solicitors can also provide valuable guidance to minimise potential mistakes when making a will.
What is an administrator of an estate?
An administrator of an estate is a person who manages someone’s assets or wishes after they pass away. They step in when a person dies without a will or if the will didn't name an executor. The administrator's job is to collect and manage the person's assets, pay any debts, and make sure everything gets to the right people according to the law.
What are the potential tax implications of estate planning?
Estate planning can have tax implications, including inheritance tax and capital gains tax. A qualified solicitor can help you navigate these taxes and provide strategies to minimise tax liabilities while ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
Individual circumstances can vary, so it's essential to consult with a legal professional to address your specific needs and concerns effectively.
Find A Wills, Trust and Probate Lawyer
Navigating wills, trusts, and probate can be daunting, particularly when grief is in the mix, but it's one of the most significant steps you can take to protect your legacy and ensure your loved ones are cared for.
The help of a qualified solicitor can make all the difference whether you're creating a will, establishing trusts, or dealing with the probate process. If you're ready to take the next step we can help you find a wills, trust and probate solicitor in less than 5 minutes.
To get started, simply tell us about your case and we will give you a fixed-fee quote for a solicitor who can help with your estate planning and probate needs.