Wills and Estates have hit the news this week as banks are criticised for charging estates after someone has died without the deceased person being properly advised in their lifetime that this would happen.
Several clients have asked us about this issue this week so here are a few FAQs on the subject:
Why did people’s estates get charged by banks after they had died?
If a professional executor acts in dealing with an estate then they will charge for the work done. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it means that the estate is being dealt with by someone with the skills, time and knowledge to deal with it in the best way possible.
The issue here is that the banks hadn’t given clients clear advice on what it meant for their estate if they acted as Executors. If lots of money goes on fees then less goes to the people you want to provide for in your Will.
What is an Executor?
An executor is the person who you appoint in your Will to deal with your estate in the way which the Will says.
So they would get a Grant of Probate if one was needed. And then they would sell or transfer your house, close your bank accounts, make any gifts you have specified in your Will and divide your money as you want it to be divided.
Do I need to appoint a professional Executor?
No. You can appoint whoever you like but it is important that you choose someone who will deal with everything well, who has the time to deal with a time-consuming job and who understands their legal obligations as executor. Your solicitor should give you advice on all the options.
Lots of people choose a close family member or friend who is organised, good with admin and who they know will follow their will in detail.
Some people choose to appoint a solicitor or professional who they trust to do a good job for them. And some people choose to appoint a solicitor with a family member or friend to work together.
What questions should I ask if I’m appointing a professional Executor?
You can ask them what they will charge the estate when you die. This is a difficult question for us to answer during your lifetime because it depends a lot on how complicated the estate is and on factors like whether family members are around to help with some of the more time-consuming practical jobs. Estates which include shares, foreign assets or multiple properties can be more complicated and it can be expensive if there are lots of beneficiaries or disputes between them.
However, you can ask whether they will take a percentage of the estate, or charge an hourly fee, or even in some cases if they do both.
What if I appoint family or friends as Executors?
You should make sure you are appointing people who will do the job well. They may have a lot to do and will have to deal with any conflicts or disputes about your estate. They can always choose to ask a solicitor to help them deal with the estate at the time and then they can negotiate costs at that stage.
Should I make my Will with a solicitor or a bank?
Your bank probably won’t help you make the Will themselves but will instead refer you to solicitors that they have a deal with. Those solicitors are likely to deal with you over the phone or by letter and e-mail. If you want to see someone face-to-face to talk about all the issues in detail then we recommend booking an appointment with your local solicitor.
What happens if I don’t have a Will?
This is called ‘intestacy’ – to find out more, read this blog .
What else do I need to think about?
Our blog on planning for the future gives you a few things to consider.
For a free initial half hour appointment to discuss any specific concerns you might have about your Will, your estate or planning for the future call 01492 588200 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org