Personal Legal Services | Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney
We excel when it comes to estate planning because of the close, personal relationships we have with our clients. Our Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney solicitors take the time to get to know you and to understand your circumstances, so we can work with you efficiently and cost effectively to ensure your affairs are in order.
You can visit us to discuss your requirements at any of our offices in Studley and Worcester. In certain circumstances we will make arrangements to visit you at a more convenient location.
Wills and Trusts
Many people put off making a will for lots of reasons but if a person dies without a will in place, their estate will be distributed according to the rules of Intestacy which do not include friends or charities, and not according to their wishes. Making a will ensures that the people you care about receive what you want them to have when you die.
There are various legal formalities which have to be followed for a will to be valid and our experienced team will guide you through the process explaining everything clearly. We will also make sure that your will is signed and witnessed correctly to ensure that the document is valid.
Our fully qualified specialist solicitors have a wealth of experience advising clients on such issues as Inheritance Tax , care home fees and potential claims against your estate.
Thomas Guise is qualified, insured and regulated in this key area of law, and our dedicated specialist solicitors have decades of experience helping clients ensure their property and loved ones are protected and their wishes respected. We are happy to spend time with you, visiting you at home or in hospital if necessary, to ensure that your will sets out exactly what you want to happen after your death. Don’t put off making your will anymore, contact one of our solicitors today to make an appointment to discuss your wishes further.
Lasting Powers of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives a person or people chosen by you, the ability to make decisions about your property and finances as well as your personal welfare. It helps you to plan for a time when you may not be able – or not want – to make such decisions for yourself. If you don’t have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place and you become incapacitated, your friends and family will have to make an expensive and lengthy deputyship application to the Court of Protection to gain access to your assets in order to help you manage your finances, for example, paying for your care, selling your property etc.
Our experienced solicitors will ensure that you – and your loved ones – are protected if the worst should happen. We help by advising on all the options available to you taking into account your own personal circumstances , drafting the necessary documents and arranging for everyone to sign them and registering the Powers with the Office of the Public Guardian so that they can be used if necessary.
Lasting Powers of Attorney replaced Enduring Powers of Attorney in 2007 but don’t worry if you made an Enduring Power of Attorney as it may still be valid. We can check this for you.
Complex Trust Advice Made Simple
Our client, the beneficiary of his late mother’s life interest trust, was mindful of inheritance tax and also wanted to ensure that everything would run as smoothly as possible after his death for his son who would then be the sole trustee and ultimate beneficiary of the life interest trust. We were able to advise our client extensively on the interaction between the life interest trust and his own estate from an inheritance tax perspective and to also explain the trust administration that would be required after his death. Our client also wanted to know how the new residence nil rate band provisions would affect his estate and the impact on his anticipated inheritance tax liability following death. Although complex in their workings, we were able to break down the provisions into simple manageable explanations so that he understood the interaction with his Will and the life interest trust and also what the likely inheritance tax liability on his death would be so that he could mitigate this with further tax planning.
Updating Wills – finding more than we bargained for!
We were approached by elderly clients to update their Wills. However it soon transpired that matters were not entirely straightforward as the clients had taken out an equity release mortgage to fund an extension on their home. Our clients did not wish to move into a nursing home but needed some help to remain living independently at home. One of their children agreed to move in with their own family and the house was extended and converted to provide two separate living quarters for each family.
In addition to taking out the equity release, our clients had been wrongly advised by their financial adviser to enter into a “family trust” arrangement. However, our clients were never really quite sure why they were advised to do this and did not fully understand how the trusts would work and their implications. They were unable to obtain any answers from the financial advisor as this relationship had quickly soured.
Ultimately our clients wanted to give their house to their child. We were able to identify a number of potential issues with this not least which related to the family trust and equity release which included a significant early repayment fee. We were able to provide our clients with clear explanations of these issues together with other issues such as the potential of a claim by one of their other children under the Inheritance (Provisions for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 and also the inheritance tax implications of gifting an asset whilst reserving a benefit.
Our clients were extremely grateful for our clear and understandable explanations of these complex issues which allowed them to consider matters in great detail, make an informed decision and confirm their instructions understanding fully the possible implications. More importantly they were thrilled to learn that we would be able to remove the family trust arrangements which were clearly not suitable to their circumstances and causing them a great deal of stress and worry.
Our solicitors were able to read through the extensive trust documentation, liaise with other colleagues regarding the property title aspects, correspond with and obtain the agreement of the external Trust Company to bring the family trusts to an end and prepare the necessary documentation to wind up the family trusts.
Our clients were delighted when matters had been completed, as the whole experience had been very troubling for them. They were relieved that we were able to deal with matters in a way which they fully understood and were entirely happy with.
Ensuring our clients receive advice wherever they are
We were due to see Mrs H, an elderly widowed lady, at home to take instructions for Lasting Powers of Attorney but, due to ill health, she was admitted to hospital. We liaised with her son and an appointment was made for us to see Mrs H in hospital.
The circumstances of the appointment were challenging as Mrs H was on a busy and noisy ward with other patients in close proximity. Unfortunately, it was not possible for Mrs H to be moved into a private room and so we had to undertake the appointment at her bedside with the curtain pulled around for some privacy. Mrs H confirmed that she was happy to proceed with the appointment in that manner and was very grateful that we had even been able to visit her in hospital as she did not think this would be possible.
We went through the Lasting Power of Attorney choices in detail with Mrs H who was grateful for the simplified and clear explanations. She confirmed that she wanted both Financial Decisions and Health and Care Decisions Lasting Powers of Attorney and who she wanted as her attorneys.
We were able to prepare the documents by hand at the meeting which we then went through carefully with Mrs H explaining everything to her, again using clear, jargon free language to ensure that she fully understood matters. The documents were then signed by Mrs H and her attorneys who were visiting her. We were able to sign as the witness for Mrs H and her attorneys as well as acting as the Certificate Provider to confirm that Mrs H understood the documents.
Having explained that Lasting Powers of Attorney have to be registered before they can be used and this process can take a couple of months, we advised Mrs H to make an additional General Power of Attorney which would allow her attorneys to assist with managing her finances in the meantime. We explained to her that this document on its own would not be sufficient though as it would not provide cover if she were to lose mental capacity. Mrs H was extremely grateful for this advice as she had not been aware of the lengthy registration process and thought this was an excellent idea as she wanted her family to be able to help her straightaway. We therefore prepared the General Power of Attorney, again by hand, which Mrs H was able to sign once we had gone through and explained it to her.
Mrs H was extremely thankful that we were able to see her in hospital under such difficult circumstances as it gave her peace of mind to know that her family would be able to help her so that she could concentrate on getting better and eventually be discharged from hospital.
Helping to make light work of a Lasting Power of Attorney
Mrs A had become physically frail and was struggling to arrange to pay her bills and generally with sorting out various matters relating to her finances. She decided to make a Lasting Power of Attorney appointing her only son as her attorney so that he could help her out. Mrs A wrote to the Office of the Public Guardian for the forms to fill in and received a huge pack of forms and booklets and therefore she did nothing for a while as she felt totally overwhelmed by the paperwork involved. Her son suggested consulting Thomas Guise and a home visit was arranged. A solicitor visited Mrs A, took instructions and within a week the paperwork was prepared using our LPA software. Thomas Guise ensured that the formalities for signing the documents were correctly carried out and the LPA was submitted to the OPG for registration within two weeks of the initial consultation. Mrs A was delighted and relieved that the process went so smoothly and that she could now rely on her son to help her when she felt unable to cope with financial paperwork.
Ensuring the right people benefit from your assets
Mrs C a widow with no children had decided to take her first holiday abroad. She was travelling to Canada to visit her husband’s cousin who had recently emigrated and who she was very close to and always thought of as the daughter she had never had. She decided it might be a good idea to make a will in case anything happened on her travels. She made an appointment at Thomas Guise to see if she needed a will and was shocked to find out that if she did not make a will her only sibling, a brother who she had not seen in years would inherit her estate. She made a simple will appointing two of the directors of Thomas Guise executors, giving a legacy to her favourite charity and leaving the rest to her cousin. She gained peace of mind by having a legally drafted valid will in place stored safely at Thomas Guise.
The importance of making a Will
We were instructed by Mrs X in connection with the administration of her cousin’s estate, Miss S who died intestate (without having made a Will). The estate was worth upwards of One million pounds. Mrs X was unable to provide us with details of all of the relatives who would inherit under the rules of intestacy and so we had to instruct a title research company to carry out investigations. In all 37 relatives came to light (including some previously unknown illegitimate heirs) living mainly in Canada, the USA and Australia. The cost of undertaking the research was considerable and the estate had to bear this. If Miss S had made a Will during her lifetime it would have saved a considerable amount of time and expense.
Highlighting the issues with a ‘do it yourself’ Will
We were instructed by Mrs A in connection with the estate of her late father Mr G. Mr G had used a “do it yourself” Will which was incorrectly completed as he had failed to include within it the beneficiaries of his estate. His estate accordingly passed under the rules of intestacy which were (according to his relatives) contrary to his lifetime wishes. Following our advice and numerous discussions with family members a Deed of Variation was completed varying the intestacy rules so that the estate could be distributed to accurately reflect the wishes of Mr G during his lifetime . All of this could have been avoided if the deceased had arranged for his Will to be drawn up professionally by a firm of solicitors.
Meet our Wills and Powers of Attorney Team
Christine McConalogue – Solicitor
Amanda Oakes – Solicitor
Nicola Thomas – Solicitor
Will Writing eGuide
Most people appreciate how important it is to make a will. If you don’t, your money, property and possessions may not end up going where you want them to.
However, fewer people realise that will writing is an unregulated activity which means that anyone can set themselves up as a will writer. It is often tempting to be drawn in by the low fees offered by will writers, however, by doing so you may be unaware of the potential dangers you or your loved ones may face when things go wrong!
Our experienced solicitors at Thomas Guise have undergone several years of specialist training before they qualify and continue to receive training every year to ensure they have the most current up to date knowledge to best advise you . Our eGuide highlights the problems that you may face if your will is written using any of the following:
- DIY/Homemade wills
- Will writers
It also offers ten practical points that you need to consider when making your will.