The Goodwills Probate and Estate Planning Service
What can Goodwills Offer?
Goodwills offer a professional Probate and estate administration service to help deal with the complexities of applying for Probate and administering an estate.
Goodwills is a regulated law firm for Probate and covneyancing services. They are also a STEP member accredited firm, with many years of experience of dealing with Probate, having delt with estates with negative values, right up to hundreds of millions of pounds! Our legal team are well placed to provide you with an exceptional, confidential and sympathetic service at a fair price.
How much does Goodwills charge for Probate and estate administration services?
We charge a fixed fee which is usually much lower than a typical percentage of the estate. This fee is based on the work you ask us to do and the complexity of the estate. We can do all the work on your behalf, or work with you, doing the work you appoint to us, and can leave the rest to you.
As an example, a recent quote we have provided for a £1,200,000 estate with three properties that needed to be sold and 9 residual beneficiaries, for full estate administration was £4,000 including VAT, plus disbursements.
Each quote is unique to the circumstances of each estate and the work involved. This quote equated to less than 0.5% of the net value of the estate.
What is Goodwills qualified, experienced and regulated to carry out?
Below is a list of the work we can do when administering your estate. Some of the below will not be applicable, and you will only be charged for work that we do.
Notify the death
The death should be notified in certain newspapers. This is so that those who wish to make a claim on the estate can come forward. If the notification is not made, and someone makes a claim on the estate after it is distributed, the executors can be liable for the amount claimed.
Value the estate & Report to HMRC
It is important that the estate is valued correctly once all the assets and liabilities are known. It is important to understand how the estate should be valued.
HMRC investigate a large proportion of estates (5,400 in 2018), and if they feel that not enough care has been taken to value the assets and liabilities, the estate may become liable to all of the tax owed, plus a fine of 100%!
If the estate has already been distributed, this burden might fall to the executors. It is important therefore to take professional advice in this area.
There may be unclaimed allowances, or other allowances based on the circumstances of the deceased, and a professional might be able to reduce any inheritance by a sizeable amount. it is also important to note that any gifts in the last 14 years (but most commonly 7 years) may have an impact on any Inheritance Tax due.
It is important that any Inheritance Tax due is paid within the required timescales or a fine might be imposed by HMRC. There are special processes if there is not sufficient liquid assets in the estate.
Is a deed of variation required?
The Will might not have been structured in the best possible way. A deed of variation can alter a Will where it is beneficial to do so and it put the beneficiaries in a better position.
This might have a huge impact on how much the beneficiaries inherit, and whether the inheritance has a positive or negative impact on their situation.
Apply for the grant of probate
If there is not a Will, then you will need to apply for letters of administration instead. Depending on the size of the estate, if there is a Will, probate may not be required. You would need to check with the companies which hold assets or liabilities on behalf of the estate.
The application is a legal process and the documents need to be completed accurately and diligently. It is easy for an inexperienced person to make a mistake when applying for the Grant of probate, and this might put an unnecessary burden on the estate.
Calculate the tax due
There may be inheritance tax, income tax or capital gains tax due on the estate. Calculate what tax is due, and be aware of when it needs to be paid by. It might be sensible to pay all outstanding tax before any creditors or beneficiaries.
Collect the assets
This may involve selling property, shares and other investments. It is important that you try and get the highest price possible. The amount you pay inheritance tax on might be higher than the amount any assets sold for. Where an asset isn't sold then where appropriate register the change of ownership.
Pay any allowable costs and clear liabilities owed by the estate.
It is important that you have allowed time for any people who wish to make a claim on the estate can do so, and you have placed the correct notifications of the death. If you have done both, you are unlikely to be held liable for any debts outstanding which you were unaware of.
Keep records and deal with challenges
Keep accounts of money in and out of the estate, and how you have completed your forms and documents. Deal with challenges or disputes with the Will. Infighting can happen between beneficiaries where the will is not clear, and the validity or content of the Will can be challenged by those named in the Will, as well as other people and third parties acting on behalf of anyone.
Distribute the Estate including setting up trusts where appropriate
The Will might have trusts built into it, or their might be minors and trusts could be required. Also, if there is no Will, life interest trusts or life interest trusts may be required. The wording of these trusts is very important. An incorrectly set up trust could be devastating for the estate and the eventual beneficiaries.
Not all assets need to be distributed through a trust, but this can help where a beneficiary might be going through a difficult time, and where it might not be safe for them to receive any assets.
A deed of variation might be important here to protect any assets, and the right trusts can ensure that the assets are kept within the family, and that Inheritance Tax, both now and in the future is minimalised.
Not dealing with the intricacies now could cost the estate or beneficiaries a lot of money in the future.
Utilise our expertise!
Don't worry if it all seems quite complicated. Our role is to hold your hand every step of the way and answer all the questions you might have. Goodwills Wilts and Glos can provide a home visit service within many parts of Wiltshire and Gloucestershire or you can visit a senior client consultant in their offices in Malmesbury. Please contact us for an initial consultation or should you have any questions.