Frequently Asked Questions

Got a question about Wills, Probate, Trusts or Lasting Powers of Attorney?

You've come ot the right place!

We've compiled a list of some of our most frequently asked questions below. You can view them all or use the tags to filter them by topic.

If you have any other questions, please get in touch and our team will be more than happy to help.

  • All
  • Wills
  • Probate
  • Powers-of-Attorney
Do I need a Will?

If you want a clearer financial future, based on certainty and assurance, you should have a valid Will in place. It means your wishes are delivered upon and your business is run in the way you want it to be by the people you choose.

If you don’t have a Will in place, the rules of intestacy are enacted. This doesn’t factor in your preferences and may see loved ones or trusted individuals left out of the process.

Can anyone make a Will?

Anyone over 18 can make a Will. However, there are exceptions, including if you are a member of the Armed Forces. Armed Forces members can make legal Wills under the age of 18.

What happens if I don’t have a Will?

If you don’t have a valid Will, your estate will be decided by rules of intestacy. This limits who can inherit to married or civil partners, and a small selection of close relatives. Intestacy won’t take your wishes into account so it’s something to avoid if possible.

What should I include in my Will?

Generally speaking, your Will should include the following:

  • Appointment of executors
  • Funeral directions
  • Appointment of guardians (if you have children) or provisions for pets (if relevant)
  • Any specific gifts
  • Any monetary gifts
  • What you would like to happen to your residuary estate
  • Any specific instructions for the running of your business – name trusted colleagues and the role you want them to take on

Add substitute provisions for these topics so you have a plan B if your original choice is unable to carry out their role.

How often should I update my Will?

We recommend you update your Will every five years, or if/when any of the following happen:

  • You get married or form a civil partnership after the date of your Will, if it wasn't made in contemplation of marriage
  • You get divorced or have your marriage or civil partnership annulled
  • Your estate materially changes in value
  • You have children
  • Any appointment in your will becomes unsuitable or fails due to ill health/death
What is Inheritance Tax?

If your estate is worth more than the tax free allowances applicable to you, then you’ll need to pay Inheritance Tax. Inheritance Tax is paid for with funds from the estate and the process is handled by your Executors. There are a number of exemptions and reliefs available, including your Nil Rate Band which can, in some circumstances, be extended by using the Residence Nil Rate Band.

If you have any questions or concerns about Inheritance Tax, our team are happy to provide advice based on your circumstances.

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process of passing on the property, money, and assets of a deceased person to those who are entitled to it. This is usually based on the wishes stated in a Will or, if no Will exists, the rules of intestacy.

How long does probate take?

The process of Probate from start to finish can take approximately one year but that varies from case to case and is based on timescales beyond our control.

It could be quicker on a relatively simple estate or could be longer if complexities arise.

The standard turnaround time for the Probate Registry to issue the Grant from submission of the application is currently 20 weeks.

Do Probate costs differ?

There are many standardised costs that are set by legal bodies (such as the application fees charged by the Probate Registry) which stay the same. But in terms of legal fees if your estate has loads of different elements then it may cost more to process than a more straightforward one. It really depends on your circumstances. It's best to contact our team and we can have a no-obligation chat.

Do I need to keep coming into Winns offices?

Absolutely not. To make things as easy as possible, we can update by phone, video call, and/or email. We’re here to make this process as hassle-free as possible, letting you focus on the important things like grieving the loss of a loved one so we’ll make our service fit in with you and your preferences.

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney (or LPA for short) is a document that provides authority for someone to make decisions on your behalf if you are legally unable to yourself. This could be because of illness, or a lack of mental capacity, or you could be in hospital and unable to pay your bills. Alternatively, you could be off travelling for a long time.

Are there different types of Power of Attorney?

Yes, you have options when it comes to choosing which Power of Attorney best suits your circumstances:

  • Ordinary of General Power of Attorney: This gives the person you nominate the power to make decisions about a specific matter while you still have the capacity to make those decisions. This could be used if you temporarily can’t carry out these decisions yourself for another reason. For example, going abroad for a while and seeking to sell your house? This Power of Attorney could be useful. If you proceed to lose your mental capacity then this Power of Attorney would cease to be valid.
  • Lasting Power of Attorney: There are two different types of LPA, one for your Property & Financial Affairs, and one for your Health & Welfare. These documents give the person you nominate the power to make decisions if you are unable to. Your Attorney can make decisions about your property and finances either if you are simply unable to and direct them to act, or if you reach a point where you lose the mental capacity to make decisions. Your Attorney can only make decisions about your health and welfare when it is established that you cannot make those decisions yourself. In this circumstance, the nominated person in your LPA can decide on matters instead. These documents are said to last through a person losing mental capacity to make their own decisions and should be put in place sooner rather than later.
What is mental capacity?

This, in the eyes of law, is about a person being able to make their own decisions and communicate them. Do you understand the decision being made? Do you understand the consequences? These are important when deciding if someone has mental capacity.

What if you don’t have a Power of Attorney?

You’d probably think, if married or in a civil partnership, that decisions on finance or health and care would be made by your partner. This isn’t true. Without a valid LPA, an application to the Court of Protection is needed to give someone else the necessary legal powers to make descisions on your behalf.

Can I make changes to a Lasting Power of Attorney?

If you need to make changes to a valid LPA, you’ll need to register a new one and end the current one. As a general rule, you can’t make changes to an LPA after registering it.

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