A. If you die without making a Will, there is a set of rules referred to as the “intestacy rules” that determine who gets what. These rules have recently been changed but the fact remains that those who benefit are set out in the rules and will not necessarily accord with your actual wishes.
As from the 1st October, 2014, a surviving married partner will take all of the first £250,000 of the net estate, and will be entitled to one half of the remainder. All the children (if any) will get half of anything over £250,000. In addition, these children will have to wait until 18 years old to actually receive the money in their hands.
There is then a so-called ‘pecking order’ in terms of who can benefit first. This is as follows:-
The above is the order in which entitlement occurs and as seen, as a matter of last resort, if there are none of the above relations alive at the date of death, the Crown steps in.
The same rules apply to civil partnership as apply to marriage. However, the position remains that an unmarried partner still receives nothing if there is no Will. There is no recognition of ‘common law’ protection, regardless of the length of cohabitation.
A. Your will, in order to be legally binding, must conform with the following ground rules:-
A. Inheritance Tax is paid if a party’s Estate is worth more than £325,000 at the date of their death. This is referred to as the “Inheritance Threshold.” The current rate of IT is 40% on any sum above that threshold. This rate may be reduced to 36% if 10% or more of the Estate is left to charity.
The Executor is liable to pay the IT.
If no IT is due, HMRC must be nevertheless informed on Form IHT205. IHT400 is completed in the event that tax is due.
The tax, if any, is due by no later than the end of the sixth month following the date of death. However, you can pay the tax in instalments over the course of ten years on assets that may take time to sell including property
A. Subject to certain rules (see question A above) anyone can make a Will. One can purchase a form from a stationers with an explanatory leaflet. This can work perfectly well but if you have more specific wishes to be incorporated in the Will, there is a legitimate argument for advising you to seek a lawyer’s input and advice. It is a matter for you but it has to be right and clear. You will need the original Will in order to apply for Probate. You will need to establish the assets in the Estate and their value. The relevant form for such Application is PA1. You also need to complete the Inheritance Tax Form detailing the liability to IT.
When submitting your Application, you must also send the Death Certificate as well as the Will. You will also, as executor, need to swear the executor’s oath confirming the truth of the statements made. In order to obtain the Probate, it is also necessary to pay the IT due.
A. If there is a Will, you apply for Probate. If there is no Will, you apply for what are referred to as Letters of Administration. Making a Will ensures that our wishes are fulfilled. Without a Will, you are bound by the “Rules of Intestacy” (see below)
As to Probate, it is the executor’s duty to apply. He may instruct a solicitor. You do not have to employ a solicitor to undertake such process. It can involve a lot of paperwork. The executor administers the Estate.