Frequently Asked Questions

What is an estate?

Everything you own at the date of your death – all property, personal and household possessions, vehicles, savings, shares etc. less any mortgages, debts etc.

What is an executor?

The executor is the person or persons you choose to carry out your wishes set out in your will.

Who can be an executor?

They have to be over 18 and someone you feel you can trust to follow your wishes in an organised way. For example you could choose a spouse, close relative or family friend, either alone or jointly with another person.

If you are concerned about the complexities in dealing with your estate then you can appoint Gard & Co. to act as a professional executor. This is particularly useful if you have a complicated or valuable estate, or perhaps your relatives do not get on with each other.

What will my executors do?

Your executors will have a number of specific duties. They must:

  • arrange your funeral
  • find out what assets and liabilities you have
  • arrange to obtain the grant of probate of your will which gives them the legal right to deal with your estate
  • pay any liabilities and tax that may be due
  • arrange to sell or transfer the assets in your estate
  • account to your beneficiaries, setting up trusts where necessary

Gard & Co. are always willing to assist with the administration of the estate whether by doing small parts, like getting the grant of probate, or taking the whole responsibility of administering the estate off the executors.

What can I put in my will?

you can, for example:

  • give specific details in relation to your funeral or burial etc. (although it is best to let someone know because the will may not be read until after your funeral)
  • make specific gifts of your belongings or financial gifts
  • state the age at which your beneficiaries can receive their gifts
  • say how a particular legacy should be used
  • appoint guardians for your children
  • make provisions for your pets

in fact, as long as it’s clearly understood and legal, you can put anything in!

What if I get married?

If you marry after completing your will then the marriage will invalidate it. If you are planning to marry then a clause can be put in to stop the will becoming invalid. The same provision applies to entering into a civil partnership.

Does divorce affect a will?

If you are getting divorced then it would be worth taking expert legal advice on the consequences. Your priorities on who should benefit may change after divorce. After the divorce, if you have appointed your former spouse as executor or made gifts to her, then these will all fail. The rules say that on divorce your will, if not altered, will read as if your former spouse had predeceased you. But until the divorce is final the will remains intact. The same provision applies to the dissolution of a civil partnership.

Can I change my will?

You can change your will as often as you like.  Small changes can be made by what is called a codicil. For anything more significant a new will may be needed to avoid confusion.

What is inheritance tax?

If someone’s estate is worth more that £325,000 (the nil rate allowance – correct for financial year 2011/2012) then, unless certain exemptions apply, when they die there will be tax (currently 40%) to pay on anything above that sum. Anything below the figure passes free of tax.

Since October 2007 the surviving spouse or civil partner can benefit from a combined tax free sum (£650,000 for the financial year 2011/2012). Gifts made between spouses or civil partners are always free of inheritance tax, as are gifts to charities.

Gard & Co. offer specialist advice on estate planning including how to mitigate both tax and the risk of care home fees reducing the size of your estate.

For further advice or to instruct us please contact RobertJane or Glenn on 01752 668246 or by clicking on the enquiry button to the right.

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