We have a team of highly experienced professionals in our Newcastle and Sunderland offices who are dedicated to delivering a bespoke and personal service. We advise a broad range of clients from all walks of life including land owners, entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals.
The importance of planning ahead for the future should never be underestimated. We appreciate that the idea of making a Will can be difficult to talk about. However, if you don’t, it can lead to problems later down the line.
Once you have made a Will, it is essential that you keep it up to date. Circumstances, as well as the law, can change. Each and every family is different and will have its own dynamics.
There are significant dangers if you choose not to make a Will, and there are many misconceptions as to who gets what. Find out what would happen on your death.
Unmarried Partners – the idea of a ‘common law spouse’ is not recognised in law and there are no automatic rights for unmarried partners. This means that your partner would not inherit anything from you, and they could be forced to go to Court.
Spouses/Civil Partners – don’t always inherit everything. It depends on whether there are any children.
Children – the amount that children receive depends on whether there is a surviving spouse or civil partner. In some circumstances, it is possible that children don’t receive anything at all. By making a Will, you control how and when your children inherit. You can also appoint guardians to ensure that they are cared for if something happens to you.
We frequently assist people who feel that they have been unfairly missed out from an inheritance, and also Executors of an Estate where they have received a challenge to a Will.
Please contact us for details of our fixed fees.
Choose your Will
|Understanding your needs, assets and debts|
|Appointing guardians for your children|
|Providing for your pets|
|Supervising the signature of your Will||
add for £30 inc VAT per Will)
|Storing your Will|
|Free Will registration||
(add for £15 inc VAT per Will)
|Understanding your business, other complex assets & overseas assets|
|Care Fees advice (including Property Will Trusts)|
|Basic Inheritance Tax advice|
|Inheritance Tax planning with bespoke advice|
|Bespoke Trusts advice|
|Working alongside a Financial Adviser and/or Accountant|
|Leaving someone out of your Will / possible inheritance dispute|
|*Only applicable for couples where instructions are for two substantially similar Wills|
The National Will Register
A survey commissioned by The National Will Register showed that two-thirds of UK adults did not know where to find their parents’ Will or if they had made one at all.
If a Will can’t be found after your death then your assets will be distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules, not necessarily in the way you would have wished.
At Samuel Phillips Law, any new Wills written (Silver and Gold Package) will be registered on The National Will Register.
The National Will Register is the UK’s Will Registration and Will Search Service with over 10 million Wills in the system. It exists to ensure no Will is left unknown or untraced at the time it is needed.
Your Will stays safely with Samuel Phillips Law. The Wills Register does not store a copy of your Will or disclose that you have a Will or that it is registered. However, if so some reason in the future, your executors, beneficiaries, or family cannot find your Will or forget where the original was written and stored, they can search for it. Their search enquiry is then sent to the solicitor where the Will is registered.
Only when the solicitor is happy that the searcher is an Executor or beneficiary, and can provide a death certificate, will the Will be discussed.
The Will Search Service is proven to reduce the risk of distributing an estate during probate on an assumed intestacy basis or when a Will or later Will may exist. There are many reasons why a Will may have been forgotten about, maliciously destroyed, or where an unknown later copy exists.
The National Will Register is endorsed by the Law Society of England and Wales.
Tax, Succession Planning and Care
When making Wills, many people are concerned with their Inheritance Tax liability and potential care fees.
With careful lifetime planning, exposure to Inheritance Tax can be reduced, and in some cases extinguished altogether.
For business owners and individuals with agricultural assets, there are special reliefs which can lead to significant tax savings. This can mean the difference between a business passing onto the next generation, or having to be broken up to pay the tax bill. Understanding the rules and planning accordingly during your lifetime is key. Likewise, for those contemplating retirement from a family business, a managed and tax efficient exit strategy is crucial for you and your family’s financial security.
We work with you and your other professional advisors to make sure that you can pass your business smoothly and tax efficiently.
If you are concerned about care fees, we can explain how you could be affected, and help you plan accordingly. This may be via your Will, financial planning, Lasting Powers of Attorney, or a combination of all of these.
Please contact us for details of our fees.
Probate & Administration of Estates after death
The death of a loved one, family member or friend is a distressing enough time as it is, without having to deal with the legal issues that arise as a result.
We have a wealth of expertise in dealing with Administration of Estates and obtaining Grants of Probate. We also regularly deal with situations where there isn’t a Will, to help people obtain a Grant of Letters of Administration.
Administering an Estate is a big responsibility, which leaves you open to financial liability if things go wrong or if you fail to follow the law. There are many reasons why you may decide to seek professional help. You may feel that you do not have the expertise to deal with matters after a death, feel that you do not have the time to do so, or feel that you do not have the emotional space. All of these reasons are valid.
We fully understand that every situation is different and we, on every occasion, agree a tailored approach that suits the needs of your family, depending on how much experience you have in dealing with these types of situation.
Inheritance Tax is complex and it is easy to miss out on available exemptions and reliefs, which can dramatically reduce Inheritance Tax. These should not be taken lightly and we encourage you to contact us regardless of how simple or complex the circumstances are. If the Estate contains business or agricultural property, it is essential that you take advice.
A conversation with us could potentially save thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Trusts are established for many reasons, but are generally for the purpose of safeguarding assets and/or protecting beneficiaries. Trusts have historically also been used for Inheritance Tax planning.
Trusts can be created in your Will or during your lifetime. If you want to create a trust, it is important to take specialist advice. There are many different types of trust. We can help you choose the type of trust which best suits your needs.
Once a Trust has been created, the Trustees have certain legal obligations, and specific legal documents may be required to record and implement their decisions. If the trust is not administered correctly, a Trustee can be personally liable for their acts, or for failing to act.
We can create Trusts and advise Trustees to ensure that they comply with all of their legal obligations.
Please contact us for details of our fees.
Lasting Powers of Attorney for individuals and business owners
Many people associate Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) with becoming elderly. This could not be further from the truth.
A Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to appoint one or more persons to deal with your affairs should you be unable to do so. This could be as a result of illness or injury, which can strike anyone at any age.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney; one deals with your financial affairs, and the other relates to health and welfare decisions. The people that you choose to appoint will make decisions for you in your best interests; they are the people who can speak for you when you can’t.
If you are a business owner, you should ensure that you have Lasting Powers of Attorney for financial affairs, which have been prepared with both your business and personal needs in mind. This will ensure the smooth running of your business in the event that you lose capacity. This protects not just you and your family, but potentially your business partners and employees as well.
Lasting Powers of Attorney are extremely useful documents which are much better to have and not need, than to need and not have. All of our team agree that making Lasting Powers of Attorney is more important than making a Will.
If you were to lose mental capacity without making a Lasting Power of Attorney, the only route for your family is to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order. This can be a very stressful experience. You will also have very little control over who is appointed. LPAs allow a person of your choosing to step in without delay.
Deputyship & Court of Protection
Deputyship is required where someone lacks capacity to make decisions for themselves and have not appointed an attorney. The proposed Deputy is required to make an application to the Court of Protection, who will then consider and, hopefully, approve their appointment. Most Deputyships are in relation to financial affairs, but it is possible to make applications for health matters as well.
After a Deputy is appointed, the Court of Protection is responsible for their supervision. The Deputy will generally be required to submit reports to the Court.
There are other times when you may need to apply to the Court of Protection on behalf of an incapacitated person. These include:
- Trustee applications for sale of joint property; and
- Attorney and Deputy applications for the approval of gifts or Inheritance Tax planning strategies
We can support you in establishing whether an application to the Court of Protection is required, and assist you with any application and provide ongoing support once an Order is made.
For all of our services, we can provide home/hospital/hospice visits upon request.
Fees for Court of Protection applications from £600 including VAT (plus Court fees etc.). Please contact us for further details.
Frequently asked questions
When should I make a Lasting Power of Attorney (“LPA”)?
The short answer is “NOW!” People often associate making an LPA with getting older, but incapacity can affect you at any time, and without warning. It is often forgotten that LPAs can also be used when someone loses mental capacity as a result of an injury or accident. If this were to happen to you, there will be many challenges for you and your family, and knowing that you have an LPA, and being able to use it immediately will be a huge relief and make a difficult situation easier for them.
Can I get a Lasting Power of Attorney for my mother/father (“LPA”)?
Yes, but we must take instructions from the person who is making the LPA i.e. your mother/father. This is because our professional duty is to them and they make the decisions about the contents of the LPAs. This doesn’t mean that you can’t assist them and be involved in the process.
To make an LPA, your mother/father must be able to understand the decisions they are making. A diagnosis of dementia does not necessarily mean that a person is incapable of making an LPA. It may simply be that they may need more time and support with their decision making. We can assess the situation and advise you about the most appropriate way to proceed.
In the event that your mother/father is unable to make an LPA, the way forward is usually to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order. If this is the case, we can assist you in making the application and support you and your family through the process.
I want to put my property into a trust, is this a good idea?
It very much depends on the trust that you want to create and why you want to do it.
Disposing of ownership of your property into a trust is a significant decision and the potential implications need to be carefully thought through.
There are many advantages to trusts, which are a very useful means to pass wealth to future generations without doing so outright, perhaps to avoid it being squandered or to protect someone vulnerable.
However, you must understand that you will no longer own the property, which will thereafter be controlled by your Trustees. Creating a trust also has potential tax consequences, which need to be fully understood.
There is also a significant risk that the value of the property will still be treated as part of your assets if you were to go into care. This occurs where the local authority consider that there has been an intentional depravation of assets to avoid care fees. If this were to happen then you could end up in a situation where your contribution to care costs is assessed as if you still own the property.
Trusts and the associated taxes are a complicated area. Specific legal advice is essential. Whether it is advisable to have a trust, or if there are other less complex steps that you can take, will depend on your personal circumstances.
When I die everything will go to my partner and children automatically, so why should I make a Will?
If you are not married or not in a civil partnership and you do not have a Will, then your partner will not inherit anything from you. There is no such thing as a “common law spouse” in English law. If you are married or in a civil partnership, what your spouse or civil partner receives will depend on whether you have children.
There are set rules as to who gets what when someone dies without a will. Relying on these rules could result in your estate being divided in a way that you would not have wanted.
Making a Will ensures that you give what you have, to the persons you want, in the way that you want to. Just as importantly, it makes your affairs much easier for your loved ones to deal with by having a document which clearly states who is to inherit from you, and who has legal responsibility for seeing that this is done.
Do I really need a solicitor to go through the probate process?
If you are appointed as an executor in a person’s will and that person has passed away, obtaining Probate can be a daunting task. Being appointed as an executor is a significant responsibility which can result in you being personally liable if things go wrong.
We find that people tend to come to us because they don’t know where to start or they haven’t got the time or they feel that they can’t do it from an emotional point of view. All of these are valid reasons and there are many others.
Sometimes executors go through the Probate process on their own. We accept that sometimes this is the only option because the estate is so small that it would be disproportionate to instruct a solicitor.
There are a lot of advantages to instructing a solicitor to assist you, such as:-
- Managing/resolving disputes
- Saving tax
- Dealing with HM Revenue & Customs
- Protecting you from liability
- Taking the weight off your shoulders
We are always happy to have a conversation with executors on a no-obligation basis.
Why should I use a solicitor to make a Will?
You run the risk of things going wrong if you don’t. For example, the will may not be signed in accordance with the proper procedure or the wording may have two different meanings. You may inadvertently fail to include all of your assets. By using a solicitor, you are protecting yourself and your loved ones. Issues discovered with a will after death can lead to problems which may delay your assets being distributed and lead to costs many times more than the cost of making a will.
At Samuel Phillips Law your will will be prepared by a qualified solicitor specialising in this area of law. Samuel Phillips Law is also regulated and insured.
Meet the Wills, Probate & Trusts team
Senior Associate and Head of Wills, Probate & TrustsView profile
Associate - Wills, Probate & TrustsView profile
Trainee Solicitor - Wills, Probate and Trusts
Legal Secretary - Wills, Probate and Trusts
Legal Secretary - Wills, Probate and Trusts
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What our clients say
“Excellent service. My case was handled very well and made this very difficult journey more bearable by doing what was right for me as a client and having my own well-being taken into consideration.”
“Peter was first class. He explained everything in our wills that we previously found complicated. He is a credit to your law firm.”
“Very pleasant and well-informed member of staff, who made us feel at ease and explained all legal terms in a simple fashion.”
“Peter was very helpful & explained the process step by step & informed my mum of the ongoing costs regularly.”
Friendly and professional handling of my case from start to conclusion. My case was far from straightforward (which I knew), but safe and sure progress was made – I appreciate the work done by all.”
“I was impressed by the friendly, considerate manner in which my queries were answered.”
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Charities we support
The Wills, Probate & Trusts team support the following charities: