Wills and Probate
Our team of specialist wills and probate solicitors at Sinclairslaw can help you to deal with legal issues affecting older and vulnerable people, as well as their families, carers, trustees and advisers.
We can help clients with their estate and tax planning and we offer expert, friendly advice on Powers of Attorney, Wills, trusts, probate and estate administration, as well as applications to the Court of Protection.
Our experienced solicitors can help you from one of our offices based in Twickenham, Penarth, and Cardiff city centre.
Losing someone we love is probably the most emotionally traumatic experience that will ever befall us during our lifetime. The friendly and approachable team at Sinclairslaw are on hand to help ease the burden and avoid the challenges that dealing with probate and administration of estates can cause. We can also help take the strain if you are appointed executor on behalf of a friend and our costs will be paid from the estate.
Our team of experienced and sympathetic solicitors is headed up by one of the directors, Vanessa Collins, at our Twickenham office, and in Wales by Lisa Davies who is based in our flagship Cardiff city centre office.
Dealing with probate and the administration of the estate can be daunting. Would you know what to do when someone dies to put their affairs in order? There can be many problems caused when an estate is not administered according to the rules and these can all be avoided by getting proper legal help with the probate. Our specialist lawyers can advise you about obtaining probate and dealing with the estate administration process as a whole.
We also advise on any tax and other financial implications that arise during or after the granting of probate itself. We have established links with accountants and investment managers who can assist us in providing an efficient service and ensure that the estate administration progresses as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
At the outset we will provide you with the best estimate we can as to what our fees are likely to be. As we learn more about what is involved, we can be clearer as to whether that estimate should be reviewed. We will be happy to offer a fixed fee in most cases to give you greater certainty.
By making a Will you can help mitigate Inheritance tax which can be payable in larger estates (starting over £325,000).
If you do not have a valid Will when you die, then the “Rules of Intestacy” will apply to your estate. Under these rules, if you are not married or registered civil partners, then your partner will not get a share in your estate at all.
Even if you are married or in a civil partnership, your spouse or civil partner doesn’t automatically get everything. They usually receive personal items and a set amount of cash which may not cover the whole estate.
Many of the complications involved in probate and administering estates, as well as family disputes could be minimised or avoided altogether by a carefully drafted Will.
A professionally prepared Will that takes account of your personal needs and circumstances could also mitigate or totally eliminate the need for your estate to pay tax on death.
We can see you at any one of our offices in Twickenham, Penarth or Cardiff where our expert solicitors will consider your family and financial situation and advise you on a Will that is suitable for your needs.
It is important to remember that your Will needs to be reviewed regularly as the law and your family and financial situation changes. We can also undertake will reviews and help you decide whether a new Will is needed.
We can register your Will with Certainty (the National Will Register) and provide you with a certificate detailing the registration number so that your Will can be easily traced in future.
We will then store your Will free of charge for as long as necessary.
Our fees for Wills are quoted on a fixed fee basis and will be determined by your instructions.
Registering Enduring Powers of Attorney and making Ordinary Powers of Attorney
A Power of Attorney allows you to grant someone else the legal authority to act on your behalf if you are incapable of acting or unavailable to act yourself. There are different types of Power of Attorney.
The most common are the Ordinary Power (which allows you to delegate specific authority, usually for a short time and a particular purpose – such as selling your house or car when you are abroad) and the Lasting Power.
The most important of the various types of Powers of Attorney is the Lasting Power of Attorney (or “LPA”). An LPA is a document which takes effect during the Donor’s lifetime and is completely different from, and separate to, a Will.
They are especially useful if the Donor becomes unwell and is unable to manage physically or mentally to deal with his or her own affairs.
Having a Lasting Power of Attorney in place will help reduce the pressure on family and friends to ensure that your property and financial affairs, as well as decisions relating to health and welfare can be properly dealt with by people of your choosing if this becomes necessary due to a loss of mental capacity.
We can help advise and prepare Lasting Powers of Attorney, including registering them with the Office of the Public Guardian.
There are two types of LPA – A “Financial Decisions” LPA gives the Attorney(s) power to manage property and financial matters for the Donor. With a Financial Decisions LPA the Attorney(s) can, for example, pay the Donor’s bills, collect income, deal with benefits and even sell the Donor’s house.
A “Health and Care” LPA allows the Attorney(s) to make decisions which concern the Donor’s personal welfare, for example whether to give or refuse consent to medical treatment, and deciding where the Donor should live. Unlike a “Financial Decisions” LPA, a “Health and Care” LPA can only be used if the Donor has lost mental capacity and is unable to make his or her own welfare decisions.
We can also help with registering an existing Enduring Power of Attorney, These were replaced by LPAs but any still in existence can be used once they are registered, but unlike the LPA they should not be registered until the Donor is believed to be losing mental capacity.
If a friend or family member has lost mental capacity and does not have a Power of Attorney in place we can help you with applying to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship
Trusts – we offer expert advice to settlors, beneficiaries and trustees
A trust is an arrangement whereby an individual (“a Trustee”) holds assets on behalf of another person (“the Beneficiary”). Trusts can help individuals in a variety of different ways, including amongst other things, to save tax, protect assets from unwise beneficiaries or look after them for those unable to look after their wealth for themselves. The person who sets up the trust either in their lifetime or in their Will is called “the Settlor”.
We can help you to set up a trust in your lifetime, or incorporate a suitable Will Trust into your Will.
Our experts can give comprehensive advice and practical assistance to settlors, trustees and beneficiaries in respect of their various legal obligations. This includes tax reporting and planning which is a vital consideration in the setting up of or running of a trust.
We can assist lay trustees to fulfil their administration requirements, including by hosting their annual trustees’ meetings, discussing investments and putting them in touch with trusted financial advisors who have proven track record in managing trust assets and completing tax returns.
We can also act as professional trustees where the need arises (such as when there are large amounts of money in the trust fund and the trustees wish to rely on our professional insurance in relation to decisions taken, or where there are no suitable “lay” trustees available, or there are conflicts between the family members involved).
Our solicitors have experience in the administration of a wide range of trusts, including discretionary trusts, Will trusts and trusts arising under intestacy provisions, as well as those for pension and life assurance death benefits.
We also advise on and prepare trusts for the disabled and vulnerable beneficiaries which can ensure that the maximum benefit is obtained within the rules.
Lisa Davies in our Cardiff office has considerable expertise in setting up trusts of all types and can advise you of the right type of trust for your needs and on the running of the trust once it has been established.