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Estate planning is the legal process whereby a solicitor works with you to ensure your personal affairs are arranged in a way that suits you, both during your lifetime and after your death.

With many years of experience in advising on estate planning, our team of solicitors know how important it is for our clients that their legacy is protected in a way that suits their individual circumstances and offers the greatest benefit to their family.

What is an estate?

Your estate is comprised of everything you own. This can be large, valuable items such as your house or your car, but also other personal possessions that might not be worth a large sum of money but are important to you. Any savings or investments held by you will also come within the scope of your estate. If you have a bank account, life insurance policy or stocks and shares then these will also be part of your estate.

Why is estate planning important?

Estate planning is important because it puts you in control of what happens to your estate after you die or if you become unwell. By drafting a Will you can ensure everything you own will be left to the people and causes you care about, and that your assets are protected and kept within your family for future generations. Estate planning offers peace of mind to you and your family. Your Will informs your family as to your wishes after you die, avoiding further stress and anxiety at an already difficult time.

Drafting a Will allows you to plan for your funeral by giving instructions to your family on how you would like them to proceed. If you have any special instructions for you funeral, you can ask your solicitor to help draft these as part of your Will. Additionally, you can arrange for your funeral costs to be covered as part of your estate planning.

Estate planning allows you to plan for inheritance tax. Our experienced solicitors are excellently placed to advise on the substantial amounts that may be saved through effective tax planning. With inheritance tax applying at a rate of 40% on estates worth over £325,000, it is a good idea to speak with a solicitor about the best tax planning options for you. Tax planning is a complex area, requiring a detailed knowledge of the interaction between trust law and the relevant taxation rules. Our expert legal advice can provide you with the knowledge you need to plan effectively for the future.

What is meant by administration of an estate?

When someone dies, arrangements require to be put in place to deal with their affairs. This process is referred to as ‘administering the estate’. A ‘probate’ is an official document that is issued by a section of the court called the probate registry to demonstrate that the Will left by that person is valid. However, when talking about the process of administering an estate the term ‘probate’ is often used to describe this.

If a person dies leaving a Will, there will be a person or persons appointed to deal with administering the estate, known as the executors. The executors of the Will have a number of responsibilities, including the distribution of the estate assets. To be able to do this, the executors will need to apply for a grant of probate from the probate registry. A grant of probate is an official document that is required by many organisations, such as banks, building societies and insurance companies, to allow the executors to access a person’s assets.

If a person dies without leaving a Will, known as dying ‘intestate’, the person with responsibility for distributing the estate is known as the ‘administrator’. The law decides who has the legal right to be the administrator of an estate, and this person will then be able to apply to the probate registry for letters of administration. These are official documents that allow the administrator to access the person's assets and distribute the estate.

Contentious Wills, trusts and inheritance claims

In some cases, a person who feels they should be entitled to benefit from a Will may raise concerns about its validity. This may be because the person who made the Will was too unwell to make decisions about how their estate should be distributed, or because their Will was written under duress or undue influence. It may be that a beneficiary of the Will feels that a person charged with distributing the estate, the executor or administrator, is not carrying out their role in an appropriate way. The Estate Planning Team at Wilford Smith is experienced in resolving Will, trusts and inheritance disputes, offering effective legal advice to executors, administrators and beneficiaries. We offer a high level, personalised service to ensure that any disputes are resolved in a timely and efficient manner.

Why choose Wilford Smith?

Wilford Smith’s Estate Planning Team offers a comprehensive service in all areas of estate planning. We provide clear and practical legal advice on writing a Will, the setting up of a trust, powers of attorney and tax planning to ensure that you are best placed to plan for the future. As a full-service firm, our Estate Planning Team is able to work with legal experts in other areas, such as our residential and commercial property teams, to guarantee that your assets are protected. With a wide-ranging client base, we are experienced in managing estates of all sizes, including large estates and those that are international in scope. Whether you are looking to make arrangements in regards to savings, property or a business, our estate planning solicitors will provide you with a professional service tailored to your needs.

Contact our Wills and Probate Lawyers, London, Sheffield and Rotherham

Contact our specialist Estate Planning Team today on 01709 828044 to find out how we can help.

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