At Jackson Longe Solicitors, we understand not only the legal challenges but also the emotional challenges of dealing with the death of a loved one.
We are here to help with every step of the way from obtaining Grant of Representation to dealing with complicated tax issues and financial matters.
Obtaining a “Grant” to administer a deceased estate can often be more complicated than imagined. The timescale to obtain the Grant is typically between 4-16 weeks but this very much depends on the complexity of the estate. It could certainly take much longer if there any “contentious” factors. Please see our page on Contentious Probate matters.
Administration of the Estate
Obtaining a grant will enable one adminster the deceased’s estate and this will typically take 3-12 months to complete, although interim distributions of legacies can often be made. Again in the event of family disputes, undue delay may emerge and so it is always advisable to obtain independent legal advice when dealing with an estate in order to deal with and circumvent any foreseen contentious issues.
Varying the Will
In addition to the routine administration, families may also wish to consider “varying” the terms of the Will itself within 2 years of the death. Careful and professional advice will be needed.
Inheritance Tax (IHT) is erroneously believed to only affect the wealthy. It is a misconception and in fact most property owners (in particular) will inevitably find themselves within its ambit.
IHT is paid on your estate when you die as well as also when money is transferred into certain trust funds. The current threshold for IHT purpose (at 2014/15 rates) is £325,000 and so the first £325,000 of the estate is exempt from IHT. This is called the nil rate band. The assets in the estate are valued on death, the nil rate band subtracted and the remainder of the estate is taxed at 40%. Chargeable lifetime transfers are taxed at 20 per cent. Transfers made within the seven years preceding the death may be clawed back into the value of the estate for IHT purposes and are charged at 40%.
Married couples and civil partners will however benefit from double the threshold if one spouse transfers part of their estate to the surviving spouse or civil partner. The estate transferred to the survving spouse is “tax free” so that the percentage of the ‘tax free’ transfer is calculated and the remaining percentage is then used to uplift the tax free amount allowed on the death of the second spouse or civil partner. This is known as a transferable nil rate band and how it works is rather complex.
It is always best advised to seek legal guidance to ensure the maximisation of the exemptions, allowances and other mitigating benefits that can be enjoyed as regards IHT.