Public and third sector services
Solicitors for the Elderly is a national association of solicitors, barristers and legal executives who are concerned with improving the availability and delivery of legal services to older people. The site contains a list of member solicitors, arranged by town or area, and also a very good set of links to other bodies concerned with elderly people and the law, benefits, health, illness, disability, wills and so on.
Bonallack and Bishop, Solicitors in Wilstshire Hampshire and Dorset, provide a great deal of free information on their site concerning, wills, probate, the Court of Protection, living wills, care funding, military wills, lasting powers of attorney and many other topics.
Making and registering a will
GOV.UK includes basic guidance on making a will.
The Law Society provides helpful information on making a will with illustrative charts and pdfs with Top Tips and Dos and Don’ts .
Certainty, the National Will Register is the Law Society’s endorsed provider of a national will register and will Search service. Anyone tcan register their will online without charge. You can also search the register to see if a will exists, and where it is. Note that only wills prepared by qualified and regulated professionals (Law Society, ILEX, Notaries) may be registered. You can also use the site to find a solicitor specialising in wills, in your area.
thewillplace.com is a national will registration service. It allows members of the public to register the whereabouts of their wills and enables people dealing with probate to search for missing wills. Members of the public can search on a name to see if there is a will and, if there is, the person will be referred to a probate solicitor in their area. Professionals can register with the site and can then, on production of a death certificate, search the database and retrieve the deceased’s will details.
Remember A Charity brings together 200 UK charities who rely on gifts in wills to continue their vital work. It publishes a helpful resource called Making a Will – your complete guide which is a comprehensive overview of the will writing process. The guide covers the importance of making a will, steps you need to take to ensure a will is legally valid, how to value and distribute your estate, naming executors and guardians, updating and storing your will, and why you should consider leaving a gift to a charity.
Making, registering and using a lasting power of attorney
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more people to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf. This gives you more control over what happens to you if you have an accident or an illness and cannot make your own decisions.
You can make and register a lasting power of attorney online at GOV.UK (subject to registration fees). There are two types of lasting power of attorney you can make:
- A health and welfare lasting power of attorney gives the attorney the power to make decisions about things like your daily routine, for example washing, dressing, eating, medical care, moving into a care home or life-sustaining treatment. It can only be used when you’re unable to make your own decisions.
- A property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney gives the attorney the power to make decisions about money and property for you, for example managing a bank or building society account, paying bills, collecting benefits or a pension or selling your home.
If you’re an attorney or the donor on an existing lasting power of attorney, you can use the GOV.UK online service to:
- allow people or organisations to view a summary of an LPA;
- keep track of which people or organisations have been given access to an LPA; and
- view an LPA summary.
The probate process
Applying for the legal right to deal with someone’s property, money and possessions (their “estate”) when they die is called applying for probate and there is now an online service at GOV.UK for this. If the person left a will, you’ll get a “grant of probate”. If the person did not leave a will, you’ll get “letters of administration”. You apply for both in the same way.
The National Probate Helpline is a specialist probate site maintained by TM Solicitors, which has extensive resources covering how to obtain probate, common problems with wills, through to how to contest a will.
Probates Direct, is maintained by Chadwick Lawrence LLP, and covers the issues surrounding bereavement. There is information on dealing with the registrar, meeting the funeral expenses and arranging the funeral. Legal guidance is also available with advice on who to call for more help and there is a set of links to a wide range of support organisations. The site also allows you to apply for a grant of probate on-line (charged service).
Probate Solicitors (PSL) – Solihull, offer a Resources section with information and downloadable papers on many probate-related topics.
Batchelors – Bromley & Sydenham, provide a site called Dispute a Will which gives information on ways that wills can be disputed, and the issues involved in this. There is also a glossary, a set of case histories, and a section of current news relating to wills and problems with wills.
Wright Hassall of Leamington Spa in Warwickshire, provide information on the factors relating to contesting a will and the grounds which might make this possible. There are various guides and articles available on the site.
The Bona Vacantia Division of the Treasury Solicitor’s Department deals with the assets of dissolved companies and the estates of people who die intestate and without known kin. (Bona Vacantia means Vacant Goods). The site has a facility for relatives of people who die intestate to search the records and there is also an auction on the site of domain names previously owned by dissolved companies. There are also guidelines on policy and “how it all works”.
Fraser & Fraser is a firm of genealogists which specialises in probate research to locate missing heirs and beneficiaries. The site has a good description of what probate research involves. They can also help find wills, obtain copies of certificates, help to administer an estate, calculate how an estate, intestacy or trust should be distributed. They can work either for firms of solicitors or for individuals who think there could be a bequest waiting for them.
A key aspect of planning for and winding up a deceased estate is inheritance tax. GOV.UK covers the basics of inheritance tax (IHT) with information on rates of IHT, tax free allowances, passing on a home, rules on gifts and when someone living outside the UK dies.
Insurance price comparison website comaprethemarket publishes a very useful Guide to Inheritance Tax which comprehensively covers the main issues and questions arising.
Care Directions is a site offering extensive information on the services and help available to the elderly and those needing care.
Care Home Fees Planning is a site set up by Tim Embleton to provide sufficient help and advice for those seeking options for long term care (for themselves or for their loved ones) and help funding it. The site is operated by Time Independent, an IFA. You can answer a series of questions to determine if you are likely to get financial help from the state or local authority and also download a free guide to planning for care home fees.