Frequently Asked Question about Private Client Law

Posted 31 July 2020 by Richard Tinkler

As a Solicitor specialising in Private Client law, covering wills, probate and powers of attorney, there are many questions I am frequently asked by potential clients – here are a few below with answers which you may find helpful.  If you have any questions not answered below, please feel free to give us a call.  Please note the answers below are for general information purposes only and do not constitute advice.  Always speak with a Solicitor in relation to your own circumstances.

  • Can I write my own will at home? 
Yes, legally you are allowed to do this, but it is inadvisable. There are numerous ways in which this can go wrong.The will may be completely invalid, or it may be drafted in such a way which, though valid, does not give effect to your wishes.It is therefore extremely important to seek expert advice from a professional.
  • Can my executor also be a beneficiary?
Yes, in general terms.The person or people who sort out your estate after you have died wear a different hat, so to speak, to the person or people inheriting – the beneficiaries.There are exceptions, however.You may have a professional executor appointed who would not, and certainly should not, be a beneficiary.You may also have a beneficiary who would not be suitable to sort out your estate.
  • Can Capron & Helliwell act as my executors?
Yes, you can appoint the Partners of the firm in your will to act as executors, either with or without any additional non-professional, or ‘lay’, executors.This does depend however on the size of your estate and if you have a smaller estate then it may be inappropriate for the firm to act as your executors.Please get in touch to discuss this further.
  • How can I include a gift to my grandchildren?
Gifts to any beneficiary, including grandchildren, can be made in your will in a variety of ways.For example, you can gift a specific sum of money, or leave the beneficiary a percentage of your estate – in that case, the gift obviously would depend on the size of your estate.
  • I am in a long-term relationship but not married or in a civil partnership – surely my partner will inherit from my estate if I don’t make a will?
You may have been together one year, ten years, or sixty years – but your partner will not necessarily inherit anything from you upon your death in this case.Assets held jointly with your partner may pass to them automatically as co-owner if they survive you, but any assets in your sole name certainly would not.It is therefore very important to make a will, whether you wish for your partner to inherit or not.
  • I am an executor of a will of someone who has died.  Do I need a grant of probate?
This very much depends on the circumstances of the estate – please speak to one of the Solicitors in the Private Client department to discuss this further.
  • How long do the Probate Registry take to produce a grant of probate?
The Probate Registry are, at the time of writing this blog, working through a big backlog of applications.The turnaround time could be several months.
  • I believe I am an executor but I don’t know where the deceased’s will is.  Can you help me?
Yes.We will be able to advise you on the different ways of being able to find it.Please get in touch with us to discuss this further.
  • I am an executor and believe the deceased had certain assets I have no records or paperwork of – can you advise me as to how to find these?
Yes.Please get in touch with us and we can advise you on the different ways of being able to find details of these assets.
  • There is a beneficiary in the will who is missing, and possibly living overseas.  Can you help me find them?
Though we are not probate investigators, we do of course have experience in dealing with cases where a beneficiary is missing.Please get in touch and we can assist you further.
  • Do you charge on a percentage basis of the value of the estate?
No.We charge on a fixed fee basis or on an hourly rate basis depending on the instructions given to us.We do not, however, charge based on the size of the estate.
  • I have received a letter saying a long-lost relative has died and that I am a beneficiary.  Is this letter genuine?
Possibly.Please get in touch with us to discuss this further.If you have any slightest doubt at all, please do not provide any personal details or bank details to any third party.
Lasting Powers of Attorney
  • Can I make a power of attorney if I lost mental capacity in future?  I don’t want to make one at the moment.
No! If you lose mental functioning, you cannot make a power of attorney.It is important therefore to make a lasting power of attorney in case you lost mental functioning in future.
  • So, if I lost mental functioning, and I did not have a power of attorney, how would my affairs be managed during my lifetime?
The appropriate person may need to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship order.This is typically much more expensive than a Lasting Power of Attorney, and takes typically longer to obtain.Unlike an LPA, it is not ready to be used at the very moment it is needed, i.e. when mental functioning is lost.
  • How long does it take for the Office of the Public Guardian to register an LPA?
Typically a couple of months, but it has taken much longer during the coronavirus pandemic.
Every case, of course, depends on its own circumstances so always take legal advice from a trusted professional about your own set of circumstances.

This article was written 30 July 2020 and the law may change following this date.

Richard Tinkler is an Associate Solicitor based at the Helliwell House office in Wroxham.

Capron & Helliwell offer a fixed fee first appointment for family law matters - for details or to book an appointment please contact Dawn Pennell on 01692 581231.

This article aims to supply general information but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek specific advice.

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