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Wills, Trusts & Probate

Protecting your assets both during your lifetime and after you die is important. We will take time to fully understand your personal circumstances and advise you on the best way to reflect your wishes.

Our team at Crane & Staples can help you with the legal processes of protecting your property and possessions during your lifetime and, as far as possible after you die.

We aim to understand your personal circumstances and wishes so we can ensure that our advice accurately reflects your individual needs.

The areas of wills, trusts and probate is a broad area and can be complex. We are an extremely experienced and highly qualified team of lawyers who have additional specialist qualifications with Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE).

Our advice covers everything from will writing, powers of attorney and tax planning to disposal of business interests. We appreciate that many of these subjects are difficult to talk about but you’ll find us easy to talk to and you are welcome to do so at our offices or in the comfort of your own home.

As professional lawyers, we are regulated and protected, giving you peace of mind.

Advice for Elderly Clients

If you or a loved one is considering care options, we provide a complete range of services specifically for the older client from long term care planning and asset protection to Living Wills and Powers of Attorney.

You may be considering care options for you or a loved one, and may be worried about the cost of care in the future, or about the £72,000 ‘elderly care cap’. Many clients are concerned about being able to protect their home if they need residential nursing care, and we can advise on what funding options are available as well as how to plan for them.

Selling your home to pay for care is not the only option – there are other ways that it may be possible to protect your home for your loved ones. Please talk to us before you take any action in order for us to provide best legal advice.

Asset Protection & Trusts

Financial security in retirement is rarely something you can leave to chance – and many of our clients find it reassuring to use us as a ‘family solicitor’.

Our advice may also involve drafting and setting up family trusts and lasting powers of attorney (LPA) so that your chosen representatives can make decisions and act for you if you become unable to do so.

Whilst this is a complex area, with careful planning we can help you achieve a high degree of asset protection, providing both security and peace of mind for the future.

Court of Protection

If a person has already lost capacity to make a power of attorney, we can advise and assist on applications to the Court of Protection, including gift applications and deputyship applications to protect the assets of incapable persons.

Whilst we advise many clients in the preparation and registration of powers of attorney, these can only be made if someone has the ability to understand this process and can still make decisions for themselves. If clients can no longer make decisions for themselves, we can prepare applications to the Court of Protection asking for loved ones/friends to be appointed to manage their financial affairs.

Applications can also be made when looking at the tax planning for your loved ones and we frequently ask the Court to authorise the making of gifts, so as to include the use of the £3000 annual exemption, gifts out of surplus income and larger gifts.

We also ask the Court to make a ‘statutory will’ on behalf of clients who no longer have the capacity to make their will.

We are happy to discuss any questions you may have regarding potential applications.

Disputes after death

There are many reasons why a will might be invalid or subject to challenge after someone has died, which can lead to a dispute.

Ensuring that your will accurately reflects your wishes, and is updated upon any significant life change is important, but after death it must be executed correctly for the will to be valid, and to avoid any dispute.

A dispute could arise if an elderly or vulnerable person has been unduly influenced to change their will. Equally, if someone lacks capacity when making or updating their will, it could be invalid or subject to challenge.

The Inheritance Act of 1975 also gives current or former family members limited rights to dispute a will. This could be the spouse, former spouse, cohabitee or stepchildren. There are strict time limits within which any dispute must be raised.

If you need legal advice on disputes after death, please call to arrange an appointment.

Power of Attorney

We can advise you on the preparation of powers of attorney, including Lasting Powers of Attorney which continue to operate even if you subsequently lose mental capacity.

Lasting Powers of Attorney allow you to appoint someone to manage your property and financial affairs and also to make health and welfare decisions for you, if you are unable to do so yourself.

Probate & Estate Administration

We can deal with all aspects of the administration of a deceased person’s estate and are experienced in dealing with both straightforward and complex estates.

We can advise and assist in administering your estate in a professional yet sensitive manner. Your family will find our team’s support invaluable following a bereavement.

If you wish to appoint professionals to administer your estate, we offer a full Executor and Trustee service, which will shield your family and beneficiaries from the varied and complex legal issues that can arise when a person dies. We are happy to act either alone or with lay persons nominated by you such as family members and friends.

We can also advise on will disputes, potentially contentious estate matters and preparing deeds of variation. Provided it is done within two years of death, any beneficiary who receive a benefit from an estate, either through a will or intestacy, can vary its terms. A deed of variation can be used in a tax efficient manner for the benefit of others, relating for example to Inheritance Tax or Capital Gains Tax for estate planning. It is important to seek expert legal advice in this area to ensure the deed is drawn up correctly.

We appreciate that this is a difficult time for you and we will look after you with respect and support in a professional manner, with tailor made advice for you.

Tax

This includes advice on Inheritance Tax planning and Capital Gains Tax, in life and upon death.

Tax planning can come into a wide range of family situations during your lifetime and upon death. These can include will writing, making lifetime gifts, leaving your house to your children and also inheritance tax.

Alongside the preparation of a will we can assist you with tax planning, including inheritance tax and capital gains tax planning – to prevent you paying unnecessary tax.

It is a complicated area and our main concern always is for you, our client, to make sure you receive the best possible advice for your situation.

Wills

In England and Wales, it is estimated that only forty-six percent of people have made a Will, and approximately fifty-three percent of these Wills are out-of-date.

This means that many bereaved families have the additional stress of working out how their relative wished for their estate to be dealt with.

A will is a legally binding document that specifies exactly what you want to happen to your money and property after your death. It can set out your arrangements for the care of your children, allows you to make provisions for your dependants, bequests to family, friends and charities and can specify the arrangements for your funeral. If you own property in more than one country, you may need a valid will for each country to ensure your estate passes to your beneficiaries.

Cost Information

We have an experienced team of qualified solicitors who can assist with the administration of a deceased person’s estate. We undertake a variety of such work ranging from quite simple and modest estates to large and complex ones.

We offer a bespoke service tailored to your needs. If you instruct us in relation to the administration of an estate, your matter will be handled by an individual solicitor with whom you will have direct contact and with whom you will be able to form a one to one relationship.