FAQs

At DLS Estate Planning Ltd, we offer a range of legal services including conveyancing, inheritance tax planning, estate administration and business succession. Based in Milton Keynes, we offer services to clients in the surrounding areas. Do you have a query regarding our services? Take a look through some of our most frequently asked questions.

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Why Use us?

We are part of the largest specialist estate planning organisation in the UK and write many thousands of wills each year – many of which have already passed though the probate process. Each document that we produced is insured up to £2,000,000. Most of our clients are introduced to us either by professional advisors (IFAs, Accountants, Estate Agents) or large corporations.

Most solicitors do a little bit of everything rather than being specialists – a little like your local GP. As a general rule they will have had no more than a few hours training on wills and probate prior to qualifying. A good estate planning consultant can give better and more cost-effective advice and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use one. Before you do perhaps see what their experience is and whether they carry PI Insurance. We have a great team of consultants based all over the UK who are backed up by a central legal team who are experts in what they do. So we’re confident that you’ll get the very best advice available.

Rumour has it that solicitors make more money out of putting incorrectly compiled DIY will packs together than they do out of writing normal wills for their own clients. These are fine if you use them for relatively simple requirements as long as you follow the instructions carefully. And if we had a penny for every client who has told us that they bought one but never got around to doing it…

Every industry has its cowboys. Rather than pretend that they don’t exist we’d rather warn you about them as many people have been caught out by scams such as these and have ended up paying far in excess of £19.99. As a general rule of thumb a home visit service should cost around £250+ VAT for a single will.

Wills

By making a will you decide who will inherit from your estate and how much they receive. Making a will clarifies your wishes and can help to reduce estate administration fees.
 
Our clients make their wills for a variety of different reasons. Here are just some of them:
  • Control the distribution of your Estate: If you don’t have a will then the way that your assets and property will be distributed will be left up to the authorities (Laws of Intestacy 1925). Unsurprisingly, not many people want this to happen as it may result in a number of problems – not least the fact that a surviving spouse may have to share their inheritance with other relatives. If you’re unmarried and don’t have a will these laws may also mean that your partner inherits nothing at all. If you’re single your money could actually end up going to the state.
  • Appoint guardians for your children: A will is one of the most practical ways of appointing guardians for your children. In the case of a married couple, if you and your partner die without appointing guardians then the Local Authorities will do this on your behalf. In cases where a couple is unmarried and have children born prior to 2003, it may actually mean that the father may not get automatic parental responsibility.
  • Protecting your wealth: One of the most popular reasons for arranging a will is to ensure that your accumulated wealth is not wasted by beneficiaries or inherited by those you do not want to access your funds (e.g. on remarriage).
  • Leave a legacy to charity: A will provides you with the opportunity to benefit your favourite charity (free of tax) by leaving a legacy.
  • Look after a family pet: If you aren’t around your will can help ensure that your much-loved pet will be looked after.
  •  Set up trusts.: These can be established for the benefit of children to ensure that they do not inherit too early and waste money or assets you have given to them. You can also put longer term conditions in place to guarantee that trust funds are only used for certain things.

You will be deemed to have died ‘intestate’ meaning your estate will be divided as per the rules of the land and not necessarily as you would have wanted. The way that your assets and property will be distributed will be left up to the authorities (Laws of Intestacy 1925).

If you don’t have a will, your assets will be distributed by the authorities according to some rules which were put in place over 80 years ago. These are known as the Laws of Intestacy (1925).

Needless to say these don’t bear much relation to modern personal and family situations and they can have an extremely damaging effect – especially in the event of unmarried partners, especially if they have children.

These Laws can also mean that a surviving spouse may have to share a large proportion of the Estate with children rather than having outright use of it themselves.

If you are unmarried with no close relatives the Laws stipulate that that your Estate will pass to the Crown if you don’t have a Will in place.

Yes. If you should die without a will and fail to designate a guardian, the Courts will decide who takes care of your children (under the age of 18). The Courts do not know your children and therefore will not have an understanding of your wishes so grandparents or close family members are not always an automatic choice.

We accept cash, bank transfer or credit/debit cards and receipts will be provided at time of payment.

Disabled beneficiaries can be protected with a ‘disabled trust’. This means that the gift received does not replace state or local authority funding of the disabled beneficiary’s basic care and support.

We aim to return your will/s within 30 business days from the date of your consultation. You will receive an original and a copy for your own records once signed.

Once you have received your will/s you need to correctly sign, date and witness them as quickly as possible. Guidance notes are provided for you. Once completed you may return them to us to check that the ‘attestation’ has been done correctly. We will enclose a pre-paid envelope for you to use. You will be advised if anything is missing or incorrect.

Powers Of Attorney

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a binding document made whilst you are alive, and before you lose mental capacity, that transfers power to another person you have specifically chosen (your ‘Attorney’), to make your decisions about your own health and welfare, and/or property and financial matters on your behalf – as if you were making those decisions yourself. 

The LPA protects your health and financial interests at a time when you can’t, and ensures that your appointed representative (Attorney) will act in your best interests at all times. It is quite common for an Attorney to step into action only once it is considered that the individual has lost mental capacity. The trouble is then proving lack of mental capacity, and this can cause delays whilst critical decisions may be put on hold.

To avoid this problem, when drafting your LPA, there is an opportunity to choose whether you want your Attorney to make some decisions as soon as the LPA is registered, rather than waiting until you lose mental capacity. This is a popular option and should be considered. 

Effectively, even though you have mental capacity and still retain absolute control over your own decisions (unless, of course, you don’t want to), this option allows your Attorney to make some decisions for you with your prior permission. 

For example, if you are going abroad and something needs doing or signing in your absence. If, at some future stage, you then lose mental capacity, your Attorney does not need to prove it on each occasion, as they are already acting as your Attorney and can simply take over control of your affairs, seamlessly.

This option, if selected, can be particularly helpful for an elderly or ill spouse or relative, who may be finding some decisions or matters too stressful to handle. They can just ask the Attorney to take over the particular task instead.

Many individuals don’t understand the vital importance of having a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) or a will in place, whilst they are alive.

It is often one of those jobs that tends to get put on hold, perhaps because some people don’t really know what an LPA or a will is; how it can really benefit them; or are superstitious about even talking about such things; or more commonly, just think they will get round to it when they are ‘older’.

Life is precarious, and a person’s physical or mental health can, unfortunately, change overnight – whether in declining health, or as a result of an unpredictable life–changing event such as a catastrophic stroke, sudden accident or stressful event. Don’t make the same mistake of thinking that a Lasting Power of Attorney is just for the elderly.

However, without a valid LPA in place, you may be powerless to make decisions about your relative’s health or finances whilst they are alive – leaving others to step in and take control instead. Don’t just assume that you will be automatically consulted and involved in decision making over your spouse or parent’s health or financial affairs, if one day they lose mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.

Part of the problem is, that even discussing an LPA or will with your relative can be a very sensitive issue. What’s more, families often get confused between a Lasting Power of Attorney and a will.

  • Gives you control to appoint someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf, as if you were making them yourself.
  • Saves time if critical or important medical and/or financial decisions have to be made quickly.

 

Without a valid Power of Attorney in place, an application has to be made to the Court of Protection to seek a Deputyship Order. This can be expensive and take time. In the meantime a ‘stranger’, who may be unfamiliar with your relatives’ wants or needs, may be appointed to act in their best interests instead, and could make decisions which you know your relative would not have wanted or wished to have imposed upon them.

A will confers powers to the appointed Executors after death, to act in your best interests and in accordance with the terms of your will. A will can have tax advantages, too. It’s often a good idea to seek legal or professional advice if you have a large or complicated estate.

Probate

“The legal procedure to establish that a will and codicil are genuine and valid, and is evidence that executors have the authority to carry out the terms of the Will.”

Probate is an official form that gives the executors of the will the right to deal with your assets and property. It acts as proof that your executors have the authority they need to handle your estate.

Care


Click here to view our guide on care costs.

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