Wills & Probate

We Are Here to Assist You

At Pilgrim Hope Solicitors, based in Standish, Wigan, we believe that to avoid disputes or complication it is best to have your Will professionally prepared by an experienced solicitor.

Life is a roller coaster, full of ups and downs, and no one knows what the future holds. Having a Will is an important part of planning for the future and caring for your loved ones after you have gone. A Will lets you decide what happens to your money, property and possessions after your death.

Making a Will is undoubtedly one of those tasks that people find very difficult to contemplate and action.

Although almost everyone recognises the importance of a Will, it is still the case that considerably fewer than half of all UK adults have one.

Having no Will in place results in the application of the strict Intestacy Rules. This can mean failing to adequately provide for those you care about most, as well as causing additional and unnecessary complications, which add to the difficulties and the hardships of those left behind. Across the UK in the first few weeks of this pandemic and after the lockdown in March there were reports of an enormous surge in the number of Will enquiries.

There are now reports that this situation has altered considerably, with the realisation that many organisations were unable to meet client’s needs as a result of social distancing. Pilgrim Hope Solicitors have, throughout this pandemic, offered videoconferencing appointments, as well as offering to arrange where necessary witnesses to meet with clients at their windows for Will signings. We will continue to do so.

As a result of social distancing the number of diagnosed cases and deaths attributed to Covid-19 is falling.

This is great news. However, we do have to be very careful, and there is the possibility of further waves of this terrible virus. Particularly as there is currently no known vaccine. Tragically, history teaches us that pandemics are characterised by peaks and troughs of activity spread over many months, and even years.

We can only hope or pray that this is not the case.

Making a valid Will during Covid-19 Social Distancing Measures

The Problem
Section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 states that in order for a Will to be valid it must be signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses, who must then sign the Will in their presence.

Non-compliance with section 9 of the Wills Act will leave you with an invalid Will. This could be disastrous.

Clearly given the current social distancing restrictions, compliance with Section 9 is much more difficult.

Even with many of the Covid-19 social distancing measures likely to continue for some time, there are no plans to alter these requirements, such as allowing documents to be witnessed by videoconferencing.

The Solution
Our team of expert solicitors are happy to take your Will instructions using Skype, Zoom, FaceTime or WhatsApp video, or by telephone.

Once we have your detailed instructions to your full satisfaction we can then offer options to you in order to comply with the current Covid-19 social distancing measures:

  • Your Will can be posted to your home, with detailed instructions on the correct procedures for compliance with section 9 of the Wills Act;
  • Alternatively, we can arrange for two witnesses to meet with you at your window or in your garden in order for your Will to be signed correctly.

Pilgrim Hope Solicitors appreciate the importance of avoiding any delay, and our technology enables us to respond to your needs.

During the current lockdown, we are offering 10% of our fees for all new Will instructions. We are also donating 10% of the fee to Three Wishes Charity – the registered Charity of Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (No. 1048659)

Three Wishes Charity raises money to fund projects, equipment and services to improve the environment and experiences of patients.

Why Make A Will?

It is unpleasant to contemplate the idea of death. However, a Will prepared by a solicitor is vital way to protect and secure the future security of your loved ones.

Planning your estate to ensure that your loved ones are financially supported, but also to make decisions such as choice of guardians for your children, will ease the burden on those that you leave behind.

It is worth bearing in mind that unmarried couples have no rights under the intestacy rules (the rules that apply where there is no will), so if one cohabitee dies the other will not inherit unless provision was made in a will.

Also, a widow or widower may not necessarily inherit the whole of the estate. Other relatives may be entitled to a share of the estate, and this may result in hardship.

Excellent reasons for making a will include:

• You decide who will benefit from your estate
• You ensure that any inheritance tax liability arising from your death is kept to a minimum
• You appoint guardians for your children
• You decide at what age your children should inherit
• You decide who to appoint as your executors who will administer your estate and ensure that your wishes are carried out
• You can leave particular items of your estate to specific people

Mirror Wills of Life Interest Trust Wills

For couples, straightforward Mirror Wills are often best, particularly for those couples that have very similar wishes about what should be written in their wills.

Protecting the succession interests of the family is increasingly important in the context of:

• second marriages
• stepchildren
• future care home fees

A Life Interest Trust Will is a Will that includes a Life Interest Trust in favour of a surviving spouse. It allows for the assets within the Trust to be either invested or retained for the benefit of the surviving spouse. Any income generated by such investments is paid to the surviving spouse. The spouse has an absolute right to the income only or to the immediate use and enjoyment of trust property.

The benefits of a Life Interest Trust Will include:

• Ensuring that whilst the surviving spouse is looked after for the rest of their life, the capital value of the fund is ultimately preserved for the beneficiaries, such as your children. This protects the estate within the Trust from the influences of another spouse, for example were the survivor to remarry
• as the spouse has no right to the capital of the fund the capital value of the fund could not be taken into account by a Trustee in Bankruptcy
• based on current legislation, a Life Interest Trust effectively ‘ring fences’ the assets and prevents them from being taken into account were the survivor to require either residential or nursing care
• the life interest gift to your spouse qualifies as if it were an absolute gift thus enabling the nil rate band to be transferred for Inheritance Tax purposes

Without a valid Will, the law provides that your estate will be distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules. In many instances these rules will not reflect your wishes or the needs of your loved ones. Unmarried partners and step-children will not be provided for. Your spouse or civil partner may not inherit your whole estate, but may have to share it with your children, parents or brothers and sisters.

There are many reasons to make a Will, and there are also many reasons why you should amend your current Will. Updating or editing your Will may be necessary if you divorce from your partner, co-habit with a partner, or have a new child in the family.

If you have young children you should appoint guardians in your Will to look after them in the event of your death. Wills can help safeguard vulnerable beneficiaries, preserve assets from being exhausted by Care Home fees and reduce the impact of any Inheritance Tax burden. Your Will is also an opportunity for you to benefit charities and other great causes that you care about.

We do understand that death is not a subject that you may want to discuss or reflect upon. Unfortunately, it is not a subject you should ignore as your loved ones may face serious problems if you die without making a Will. Problems that could have been avoided if you had made a Will.

At Pilgrim Hope Solicitors we are well known for being approachable and also our professionalism.  As a result, you will find that making a Will is much less troubling than you might have imagined.

Pilgrim Hope Solicitors can also prepare your Lasting Powers of Attorney, whether for Property and Finance or Health and Care decisions, ensuring that these hugely important documents are properly prepared and registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

The best way to think about Lasting Powers of Attorney is to ask yourself the question, “who would I trust to deal with my money, property or my welfare if I couldn’t manage?”

Often the chosen attorneys are husband or wife or children, or other relatives or very trusted friends. People who know you well and people you can totally trust.

By helping you with your Lasting Powers of Attorney our solicitors can enable you to prepare in advance for the possibility of either permanent or temporary loss of capacity, giving you the peace of mind of knowing that your chosen trusted attorney or attorneys can deal with your affairs if you need that help in the future.

Pilgrim Hope Solicitors fees depend on the size and complexity of the Estate.

The average cost of a simple Grant of Probate only (where there is a Will) or simple Grant of Letters of Administration only (where there is no Will) and the estate is under £325,000 is between £600 – £800 plus VAT plus disbursements (Probate Registry fee of £155 plus £1.50 per each copy required). The average cost for a Grant Only Estate where an IHT (Inheritance Tax Return) is required is £1500 plus VAT plus disbursements.

The typical legal fees for Full Administration Service for an Estate which is not considered to be complex (to include, for example, cashing in assets, paying liabilities, making sure any taxation issues are dealt with, preparing a detailed account of monies received and paid and then
dealing with the distribution of those monies) is between £2500 – £3500 plus VAT and disbursements.

The fees for a more complex Estate do vary, but are generally in the region of £5000 – £10,000 plus VAT and disbursements. It may be possible for us to agree to a fixed fee with you at the outset.

Timescale

It is impossible to predict how long estate will take. However, a simple Estate is likely to take less time to deal with. Regular reports are provided to the client.

A Deed of Variation can be an extremely useful tool as it enables a beneficary of a Will or beneficiary of a share of an estate on an intestacy (where there is no Will) to redirect part or all of their entitlement.

It can be used to save Inheritance Tax or to amend a defect in a Will, or simply to re-direct the benefit to the next generation.

A Deed of Variation must be completed within 2 years of the date of death.

Contact one of our expert Solicitors to find out more.