A wealth of business experience and knowledge from within the Will Writing and Estate Planning sector has been brought together to create Quick-Wills. Our management and staff are dedicated professionals with a track record of delivering services and products to customers at the very highest standards.
We are always evolving and learning to ensure that our credentials are up to date and we follow the industry best practice guidelines when producing documents for our clients. Our collective goal is to make Quick-Wills the premier provider of Private Client Legal Services in the United Kingdom through innovation, new technologies and delivering the best customer service at highly competitive prices.
WILL DRAFTING SERVICES
A Will is a legal declaration of how you wish to dispose of everything you own on your death. In order for it to be valid it must comply with certain legal requirements, which is why it is essential to use a professional service to have your Will drafted.
Writing a Will is one of the most important things you can do for your loved ones. Having a valid and up to date Will in place means that your estate can be effectively and efficiently dealt with in accordance with your wishes rather than in accordance with rigid provisions laid down in the intestacy rules.
By having a Will you can help ensure that those you care about are provided for when you are no longer here to look after them. If you already have a Will it is important to review it regularly to ensure it still reflects your wishes, your current financial and family situation and any changes in legislation that may have occurred.
PROFESSIONAL EXECUTOR SERVICES
Producing a professional Will that deals with all of your requests takes a lot of consideration, but it is equally important to choose the right people to administer your estate and put your carefully thought out provisions into place. The responsibility for dealing with probate and the administration of the estate lies with the executors.
Choosing a close friend or family member as an executor can place an unnecessary burden on them. The process can involve a great deal of time, effort, stress and even financial costs; all of which can be overwhelming for an individual. Choosing us as the executor in the Will or even as a substitute executor means that we can assist your family from the start and we can take on the responsibility and liability of the administration as soon as we are contacted.
Our business is built on delivering high standards of customer care so that you can be sure that your family will receive the very best support and advice.
Appointing us within your Will means your family will benefit from preferential rates for us dealing with the estate when the time comes.
DUTIES OF THE EXECUTOR
The appointed executors (or administrators in an intestacy) have the following responsibilities:
Securing and insuring the deceased’s property
Ascertaining what assets and liabilities are in the estate and obtaining valuations
Establishing the identity of beneficiaries (under either the terms of the Will or the intestacy rules)
Prepare the appropriate IHT forms and schedules and account to HMRC for any tax liability due in order to obtain the required receipt to submit to the court. (IHT forms are required to be completed even if Inheritance Tax is not due)
Submitting all necessary documentation to the Probate Registry to obtain the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration
Issuing statutory notices in the London Gazette and a local paper
Collecting in the assets
Paying debts having regard to the strict statutory order of priority, the assets within the estate and the contents of the Will
Paying legacies or transferring assets to specific and general legatees
Preparing Estate Accounts to be approved by residuary beneficiaries and distributing the residuary estate
This is not an exhaustive list
For most people retirement should bring contentment and the knowledge that your affairs are all in order so that you can enjoy this time with complete peace of mind. Unfortunately many people still have concerns that seem overwhelming.
This often relates to the need to provide for a spouse or future generations in times to come and protecting assets from potential third party intervention. The use of trusts has become a popular method for resolving these issues.
WHAT IS A TRUST?
Your choice of trustees is essential. We currently manage in excess of £260 million worth of trust assets for our clients.
A trust is a relationship created at the direction of an individual, normally by Will or Trust Deed, in which one or more persons hold the individual’s property, subject to certain duties, to use and protect it for the benefit of others.
Trusts can be used to control the distribution of property either during lifetime or after death. There are many types of trusts and many different uses and reasons for creation. A trust may be created for the financial benefit of the person creating the trust (the Settlor), a surviving spouse or minor children, or for a charitable purpose.
A trustee takes legal title to the trust property which means that the trustee’s interest in the property appears to be one of complete ownership and possession, but the trustee does not have the right to receive any benefits from the property. The right to benefit from the property, known as equitable title, belongs to the beneficiary. This separation of legal and equitable ownership is unique to trusts.
The terms of the trust are conferred by the settlor on creation of the trust and confirm the duties and powers of the trustee and the rights of the beneficiary.
The law of trusts is voluminous and often complicated and it is essential to take full advice when considering establishing a trust.
ASSET PROTECTION TRUSTS
An Asset Protection Trust is usually a discretionary or life-interest trust and is created by someone in their lifetime (known as the Settlor). These trusts are a popular and effective estate planning strategy which allows the settlor to transfer assets into trust immediately rather than planning for a transfer on death.
The Asset Protection Trust is used to protect assets for future beneficiaries from their own misfortunes or from third party attack and to ensure that the assets ultimately pass to the chosen beneficiaries. This is particularly important to people who have children from previous relationships or who are concerned a surviving spouse may be influenced to change the distribution of the combined estate.
Because the assets are held within a trust they are not held within the distributable estate on the settlor’s death, which means that the costs of probate may be reduced and any delay in dealing with the trust assets is avoided.
What are the tax consequences? For assets valued under the current inheritance tax threshold (£325,000) there will be no immediate charge to tax. This threshold is a cumulative total and will include any earlier transfers made by the settlor in the past seven years. Should the value exceed this ‘nil rate band’ there would be an immediate charge to lifetime IHT of 20% of the value of assets above the nil rate band that are transferred into trust.
If the settlor continues to benefit from the assets then the trust will not remove the value from the IHT estate of the settlor on death, but the trust can be used to pass the use of the assets through future generations without them being taxed on each subsequent death.
Of course any advice we give will include any tax consequences and treatments in relation to the trust.
The extent of a trustee’s responsibilities, and the complexity of the role, depends on the type of trust and the assets held. For example, a ‘discretionary trust’ trustee is not only responsible for looking after the assets and making suitable investments but also responsible for deciding when to make capital and income payments to beneficiaries. Trustees are also responsible for declaring and accounting for tax on trust investments.
In a ‘bare trust’, the trustee may have fewer duties to perform. Providing they are old enough, the beneficiaries decide how to use trust capital and income and are responsible for declaring and paying any tax due. The trustees are still responsible for keeping good records and ensuring their statutory duties are complied with.
The person who sets up the trust (the Settlor) may have given instructions to the trustees to carry out various functions. These may be contained within the ‘trust deed’ (or Will where a trust was established on death), which outlines the terms of the trust. Trustees are legally bound to act on these instructions and cannot deviate from these directions.
Understanding this complex area of law can be difficult and seeking professional advice or appointing a professional trustee such as Quick-Wills is recommended.
SECURE STORAGE & DEDICATED AFTERCARE
Once you have made a Will it is critically important that you keep it safe. If this document is lost, damaged, defaced or destroyed it can render it invalid. The effect of this could be catastrophic as your estate will be dealt with under the rules of intestacy and all of your wishes will be ignored.
Every effort goes into making your Will; you have taken the time to consider your options, sought professional advice and used our expertise to ensure that it perfectly meets your requirements. We have taken the time and care to produce a document that is the result of this process and will ensure your wishes are carefully protected into the future. Keeping this document safe and secure and accessible only to the people you have nominated is now an essential part of your estate planning.
Most of our clients take advantage of our secure storage facility, which is available for a small, fixed annual fee. It is fully insured against any losses and your Will is stored in a dry, clean and temperature controlled environment with limited security access. Not only will your documents be safe but they will only be accessible to your nominated executors after your death preventing any damage or destruction by third parties.
In line with our secure storage service we also offer a dedicated aftercare facility. Life has a habit of continually changing and it is vital that your documents are kept up to date to reflect your circumstances or wishes. If your family situation changes, or you just change your mind, we will update your documents to mirror these changes with NO FURTHER CHARGE. This is a simple service to ensure you don't delay making any changes to your documents for fear of incurring fees or having to go through the full instruction process.
As a Secure Storage and Dedicated Aftercare customer you will also benefit from discounts on all our legal services or products. Your family and friends can also receive discounted services when you refer them to us and we provide a free Bereavement Service to assist your family and friends at the time of need.
When you lose someone you love it can be a very difficult time both emotionally and in practical terms. Dealing with a death can seem overwhelming but a call to our experts can put your mind at ease.
In the first days after a death you may have lots of questions:
How do I register a death?
How do I pay for the funeral?
Is there a Will and what do I need to do with it?
Who should I speak to first?
Then there are practical matters such as:
Who is allowed in the property?
Do I have to notify all the utility providers?
What about insurances?
What will the banks need from me?
Which Government bodies do I need to inform?
How do I pay all the bills?
How do I comply with the Will and what am I allowed to do?
…and the list goes on.
Quick-Wills offer a comprehensive Bereavement Service to help guide you through the process and answer all of your questions. We can do this over the telephone or by a personal visit (subject to criteria) to ensure you receive the support and guidance you need.
This service is available free of charge to all clients using our Secure Storage and Dedicated Aftercare service* and provides complete and practical advice to your executors and family.
Many lay executors begin the process of administering an estate and then realise the amount of time and effort that is involved. This often leads to them seeking professional advice after they have started and already incurred costs. We always, therefore, encourage executors named in our clients Wills to speak to us in the first instance to take advantage of our bereavement service; so they can make an informed decision about how they wish to proceed.
*This service is chargeable to other users
PROBATE & ESTATE ADMINISTRATION
After someone dies, everything they own (their estate) must be dealt with in accordance with their Will or the Rules of Intestacy where no valid Will exists.
Unless the estate has little or no assets a Grant of Probate will need to be obtained so that the executors or administrators can use this to collect in the deceased's assets and prove their authority to act on behalf of the estate. Even if we are not appointed within a Will we can still assist an executor to fulfil their duties.
Whilst a Grant of Probate can be obtained by an individual they must complete the Court applications forms and attend an interview at the Court. They must also account to HMRC for any Inheritance Tax (IHT) liability (or complete the appropriate forms to apply for any exemptions or relief from IHT). The appointed executor is personally liable for their actions so it is essential that this process is completed correctly. Instead, they can choose from our comprehensive range of services which include a 'Grant Only' service right up to full Estate Administration. The costs of these services can be met from the estate and take away the burden from the executor.
Our professional team of probate associates hold industry leading qualifications and all our work carries £2 million professional indemnity cover for your complete peace of mind. Estate Administration can be lengthy and time consuming and our legal expertise can ensure the entire process is dealt with in the shortest time possible. As part of the process we can assist with house clearances, asset sales and beneficiary location as well as the statutory notices to claimants, personal tax of the deceased, IHT forms and the Court procedures.
Quotes are available on either a fixed percentage basis, on hourly rate, or a combination of both.
TRUST CREATION: As well as providing a professional trust drafting service for Asset Protection Trusts we also supply a complete range of trust documents to suit all circumstances including, but not limited to, settlor excluded trusts used for inheritance tax planning, life interest trusts, pilot trusts, personal injury trusts and trusts for vulnerable or disabled beneficiaries. Having the right type of trust is crucial for estate and tax planning purposes.
WILL TRUST CREATION: We also establish Will trusts post death on behalf of the appointed executors and trustees. Where the Will of a deceased contains directions to the executors to establish such a trust we can assist them by drafting trustee minutes and dealing with the transfer of trust assets to the trustees.
TRUSTEE SUPPORT: Where an appointed trustee requires additional documentation we can assist. This can occur where a deed is required to change a trustee or to appoint assets out of the trust to beneficiaries under the powers contained within the trust. This can occur where the trustees decide to dismantle a discretionary trust and appoint assets to a surviving spouse. The correct documentation is crucial so that the Nil Rate Band of both partners is maximised.
DEED OF VARIATION: Sometimes it is necessary, or preferable, for a beneficiary under a Will or the intestacy rules to redirect assets that they were due to receive. This requires a formal variation to ensure that any tax advantages intended by the variation can be preserved. A variation can be used for a variety of purposes, whether the deceased had a valid Will or died intestate.
CONVEYANCING: It can often be beneficial to change the legal or equitable ownership of a property for estate planning purposes or to simply clarify the intended legal position in respect of a beneficial interest in the property. This can be effected by transferring the legal title of a property or producing a Declaration of Trust over the property to protect a beneficial interest.
FIRST REGISTRATIONS: A first registration of any unregistered property is now compulsory where there is a change of legal ownership. This can be due to a transfer, the death of the legal owner or because the property is being transferred to trustees under the terms of a trust. Whether a registration is compulsory or voluntary we can assist in drawing up the necessary documentation and submitting the deeds to the Land Registry.