Telephone : 01752 401401

 

FAQs

  1. How much does a Will cost with Portcullis?

At Portcullis we offer different, fixed priced service routes for you to choose between depending on your needs. If you come in store, your Will will cost £99 plus VAT per person. However, if you prefer for one of our team to come and see you at your home, your Will will cost £162.50 plus VAT or £245.83 plus VAT for a pair of Wills

  1. What makes Portcullis different from other legal service providers?

We are totally focused upon our customers. That is why we offer different ways of using our services that suits you not our lawyers! All our fees are fixed and agreed in advance and we promise never to charge you for a letter or a phone call. We call this “doing law differently”.

  1. I’d like to speak to someone about drafting my Will before proceeding, is this possible?

We would be more than happy to help. You can contact us either by filling our contact form, emailing enquiries@portcullislegals.co.uk or by calling 01752 401401.

Alternatively, we are available to answer any of your queries in store from 9am-7pm Monday to Friday or 9am – 5pm by appointment on Saturdays.

  1. What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document that gives you the power to decide what should happen to your estate when you die. It is an invaluable opportunity for you to clearly lay out your intentions and wishes.

You can also make sure you don’t pay more Inheritance Tax than you need to. If your personal, property or financial circumstances change, you should change or update your Will. Your Will can be changed at any time during your lifetime provided you retain capacity.

It’s very important that the wording used in your Will is clear and legally effective. Many people prefer to use a professional Will writing service for this reassurance.

  1. What can I do in my Will?

You can say exactly what you want to happen to your property. Most people choose to keep their Will as simple as possible and so gift all of their estate (as one lump – called the “residuary estate”) rather than try to break it down into individual amounts or items. However, you may, if you wish, gift:

  • Property – either as an outright gift or to give someone the use (only) of it for a period, say, until they remarry with the instructions that once they have remarried the house is to be sold and the proceeds shared among other members of your family nominated by you
  • All your house contents (chattels)
  • Specific sums of cash – with or without an inflation adjustment
  • Gifts of personal belongings that are special to you and the person to whom they are given
  • Gifts to charities that are free of Inheritance Tax.
  • Specific investments e.g. shares, PEPs, TESSAs
  • Businesses – either an outright gift or the first option to buy it from your estate
  • Residue i.e. what’s left after all other gifts have been made and all your outstanding liabilities have been settled, including your testamentary expenses which are funeral costs, probate fees and Inheritance Tax.

 

You can also

  • Appoint Guardians to look after your young children.
  • Choose who you want to be your Executors and Trustees.
  • Give directions regarding your funeral.
  • Give directions on whether you wish to donate your organs or donate your body for medical research
  • Stipulate how your pets are to be provided for

 

  1. Do I need a Will?

Virtually everyone has something to leave behind even if it’s just their personal possessions. It doesn’t matter how little you think your estate is worth, it is important that you make a Will.

Even if you do not have much money or property now, that doesn’t mean that you will not have more to leave when you pass away at some point in the future. As no one really knows when they are likely to die or how much they will own, it’s recommended to get a Will written so that your wishes are clear.

  1. What happens if I don’t have a Will?

Dying without a Will is called dying intestate. If you die intestate, your wishes are not taken into account and your relatives and friends could face severe difficulties. Although you may not like it, the law will decide what happens to your estate for you, which may not be what you would have wished.

Your estate and property will be divided and distributed under the intestacy rules, according to the Administration of Estates Act. If you’ve married, or are in a civil partnership and have children, your spouse will get your possessions and the first £250,000 of the rest of your estate. Anything more is split in two: half to your children under 18, half to your spouse. If you have no living family members, all your property and possessions will go to the Crown.

Portcullis makes it quick and easy to write a Will. Though it may seem daunting now, writing a Will makes things easier for your family during what will inevitably be a difficult time.

  1. What is included in my estate?

Your estate consists of everything you own at the time of your death after all your outstanding liabilities have been settled. This includes your house (less any outstanding mortgage or other loans secured on it), cash and savings, your car, household and personal effects, proceeds from any life assurance policies and pensions where there isn’t a named beneficiary or the plans are not written in trust LESS any outstanding loans, credit card balances, household bills, funeral expenses, probate costs, inheritance tax (if applicable) etc

Your estate doesn’t include money in a joint account or property or shares owned jointly. Also not included, life insurance policies in joint names and those where you have already nominated who the beneficiary should be on your death.

If applicable your employment death in service benefit and pension is also not normally included as these are held in trust for whomever you may have already nominated. It is, however, sometimes recommended by trustees that you mention in your Will who you would like to benefit – although trustees are not legally bound by your expressed wishes in your Will.

  1. What must I do before my Will becomes valid?

Two independent people aged at least 18 years old, who are of sound mind must both be present when you sign and date your Will. Your witnesses do not need to know the content of your Will. The witnesses cannot be:

  • Blind
  • Your spouse or civil partner
  • Beneficiaries in your Will
  • Spouses or civil partners of beneficiaries in your Will
  • Anyone related to you

 

  1. I’m getting married. What impact will this have on my existing Will?

Marriage or civil partnership will automatically cancel an existing Will. However in situations such as where a Will is drawn up just prior to you getting married, the Will can contain a sentence providing for the pending marriage or civil partnership.

  1. If I divorce, will this affect my Will?

Divorce doesn’t automatically cancel a Will. If you get a Divorce or annulment after you have made a Will, any appointment of the former spouse as an Executor will be invalid. Furthermore any gift in the Will to the ex-spouse will be cancelled and treated as if they died on the divorce date (unless the Will states otherwise). We strongly advise that you should write a new Will whenever there is a major change to your circumstances. If you are unsure, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01752 401401.

  1. What happens if I leave someone out of my Will?

The law permits you to write your Will as you wish. However if you fail to make provisions in your Will for someone lawfully considered as a dependent, a claim may be brought against your Will for Reasonable Financial Provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. The list of dependants includes:

  • Spouses
  • Ex-spouses (if the have not entered into a subsequent civil partnership or marriage)
  • Recently separated partners
  • Civil partners
  • Ex-civil partners (if the have not entered into a subsequent civil partnership or marriage)
  • Co-habitees
  • Children

 

The claim may result in the Court altering your Will to provide for any dependants. If you do wish to exclude anyone who may be considered as a dependant from your Will, your reasons for this should be given in your Will or in a separate letter referred to in your Will. If a claim is brought, the Court can then consider your reasons, however the reasons will not bind their final decision.

  1. Can I make provision for my children?

Yes. However, the law defines ‘children’ for these purposes as your natural children and any that you have legally adopted. Your stepchildren are not included in this definition and so, if you wish to provide for them, you must mention them by name in your Will.

You can also include your children as beneficiaries in your Will even if they are very young. It is sensible to consider the age you would like your children to reach before being able to access their inheritance, typical ages are 18, 21 or 25. Whilst the child is under the specified age, their inheritance is managed on their behalf by people called Trustees. You appoint your Trustees in your Will.

If you have children at the moment and wish us to include others not yet born then we can include the words…” and any other children of mine not yet born”

  1. What are Guardians?

A Guardian is appointed to look after your children, whilst they are under 18 years old, if there is no other person with parental responsibility alive at the date of your death. You should choose your guardians carefully and discuss with them if they are willing to take on the role of Guardian in the event of your death.

Importantly, if you and your partner have joint children, but are not married and the father is not on the children’s birth certificate then the mother of the children will need to appoint him as a Guardian. This is because under current law, he does not have any automatic rights to the children if she passes away first.

  1. Should I appoint Guardians?

If you have children under the age of 18 it is vitally important to appoint a Guardian or Guardians. Guardianship is one of the main reasons why parents make sure they have a valid Will in place.

  1. What are Executors and what do they do?

Your Executor is named in your Will as the person or people responsible for all aspects of winding up your affairs after you’ve passed away. This includes

  • Arranging your funeral
  • Notifying people and organization that you’ve died
  • Collating information about your assets and liabilities
  • Dealing with any tax bills
  • Closing accounts
  • Finding out what assets, property and investments the deceased had
  • Having any valuables and property professionally valued
  • Listing them and their current value
  • Making sure the funeral takes place and arranging payment
  • Gaining details of outstanding debts and bills
  • Establishing pension entitlements and other monies due
  • Determining Income and Inheritance Taxes due and making any necessary tax returns
  • Completing and submitting all Probate Registry forms
  • Calling in assets
  • Paying off debts
  • Transferring gifts to beneficiaries
  • Drawing up clear accounts to present to the main beneficiaries
  • If the Will creates any trusts, for example if there are minor beneficiaries, it is usual to appoint two trustees (they can be the same as the executors unless the trust is an IOU Discretionary Will Trust in which case we recommend that the trustees should not also be executors).

 

  1. Who can be my Executors?

You must appoint an Executor in your Will to carry out your wishes after you die. They can be anyone you choose, for example:

  • Your husband, wife or partner
  • Your son or daughter (if over 18 at the time of your death)
  • Your brother or sister
  • A close friend
  • A beneficiary in your Will
  • Portcullis Legals Ltd

 

It is always best to ask the person whom you wish to appoint whether they are willing to act. The duties of an Executor are varied and can be very time consuming. As a result, people chosen to be Executors, when called upon to act, often appoint a professional firm to help. The costs and expenses incurred by Executors, including the professional firm’s fees, can be recouped from the estate. One option to consider is using Portcullis. We offer the following benefits

  • Immediate free advice and guidance for your next of kin to help avoid any confusion after you’ve passed away.
  • Following death, we’ll provide a fixed fee quote to your beneficiaries to carry out the agreed work.
  • We provide your loved ones with complete guidance throughout the process so they do not need to worry about making mistakes or having the responsibility for dealing with your estate.

 

  1. How many Executors can I appoint?

You can appoint up to four Executors, but you should appoint at least two. This is especially the case if there are potential beneficiaries who are not yet 18 years old. You can also appoint alternative Executors in case when you die your first choice decides not to take the position or dies before you.

  1. Do Executors get paid?

Where individuals (family or friends) are appointed they are not normally paid although you may give them modest cash gifts in your Will as a “thank you”. They are usually allowed to reclaim any expenses incurred by them in the administration of an estate, including Probate fees.

When professional Executors are appointed (individual people or organisations), clauses are usually included in a Will to provide that they be paid their normal fees. They would not act otherwise. A solicitor will often charge 2% to 3% of the value of the estate while a bank sometimes charges 4% to 6%. Portcullis offers a competitively priced, good value Estate Administration service.

  1. What type of gift can I make in my Will?

You can make different types of gifts in your Will.

  • Specific Gifts are gifts of items,
for example giving your jewellery to your daughter or your golf clubs to your nephew.
  • Pecuniary Gifts are gifts of money, for example giving £100 to each of your godchildren or £1000 to your favourite charity.
  • Residuary Gifts –
Your residuary estate is what is left after all outstanding debts and specific or monetary gifts have been distributed. This ensures that your remaining estate passes to your chosen beneficiaries rather than being subject to the intestacy rules.

 

  1. Can gifts in my Will fail?

Yes. A gift may fail because the item has been given away during lifetime, or the estate is insolvent, in which case the Will is read as if the gifts were not made or the sum is reduced. A gift can also fail if the beneficiary has died. In this case the gift will fall into the residuary estate.

  1. Can you tell me more about what the term ‘probate’ means?

Probate is a legal document issued to one or more people (Executors) by the Probate Registry that authorises them to deal with an estate. The registry can only grant probate, known as the grant of representation, after seeing legal proof that the person named is the executor. The grant of representation proves the executor is entitled to claim the assets of the deceased as a personal representative. The executor will be able to administer the estate, and must follow the Will and deal with the estate and beneficiaries according to law.

  1. Can I include funeral wishes in my Will?

Yes, you can go into as much detail as you like but you must bear in mind that funeral wishes are merely wishes and do not legally bind your Executors. As a result your funeral wishes may not be carried out in the way you had stipulated in your Will.

  1. Can I use a Will to protect my home against care fees?

In certain circumstances yes, depending upon several factors including how your home is owned. However the area of law relating to this is very complex and requires specialist advice. For further information speak with one of our specialists about our Trust Wills.

  1. Where should I store my documents?

When you die, your Executors will need your original Will, not a copy. Portcullis offers a low-cost storage option. If your Will cannot be found after your death, it’ll be presumed not to exist. As such, storing your documents with us will save your family further distress from not being able to find your will when you die. If you do not wish to use our storage service, you should store your Will in a safe and secure place and tell your executors and/or family where it is.

  1. Can I use Portcullis to make a Will if I have foreign assets?

If you have assets outside the UK, or in a different country to where you permanently live within the UK in the case of property, the extent to which (if at all) the Will is successful in that regard depends on the law in force in the jurisdiction within which the assets are situated..

  1. Can I leave a gift of property with a Will from Portcullis?

Yes. This can be done as long as the property is included in the residuary estate. The legal issues in relation to the ownership of property and how it passes on death can be complex and it requires specialist drafting to make a specific gift of property in a Will.

  1. What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?

A Lasting Power of Attorney gives someone you trust the legal authority to make decisions and manage your affairs on your behalf, if either you’re unable to in the future or you no longer wish to make decisions for yourself. There are two, separate types of LPA: for property and financial affairs, and health and welfare. Anyone over 18 years old with adequate mental capacity can make a Lasting Power of Attorney in which they can appoint one or more attorneys to make decisions and act for them.

  1. Do I need both types of Lasting Power of Attorney?

In England and Wales, different types of Power of Attorney give your Attorneys the right to look after your financial affairs and your health and welfare. It makes sense to have both types so your affairs can be fully managed.

  1. When should I create a Power of Attorney?

To create a Power of Attorney, you must still have the capacity to make your own decisions. This includes being capable of making decisions about who to appoint as your Attorneys and what powers you want to give them. Most people create a Power of Attorney well before they need it as it is impossible to create a Power of Attorney once you have lost capacity. Don’t leave it too late or wait until a diagnosis of a medical condition, because circumstances and your level of capacity can change very quickly in completely unexpected ways. Creating a Power of Attorney with Portcullis will protect both you and your loved ones.

  1. I already have a Will, does this mean I don’t need an LPA because my executors can handle my affairs?

A Will is completely separate and has a completely different purpose to a Power of Attorney. If you have created one, you still need the other. A Will relates to how your estate is distributed when you die, and it is your Executor who has responsibility for dealing with your estate on death. An Executor does not have the right to manage your affairs during the course of your lifetime. If you want someone to handle your affairs whilst you’re still alive, you will need to appoint an Attorney. 
If you’re an Attorney, you can’t make a Will on behalf of your loved one.

  1. If I grant Power of Attorney to someone else, can I still handle my own affairs?

Yes. Powers of Attorney are typically created by people who are happy to continue handling their own affairs until they reach a point in the future when they are incapable of doing so. When that person is no longer capable, the Power of Attorney gives your chosen Attorney the power to assist you in managing your affairs on your behalf. You should be encouraged and supported by your Attorney to continue dealing with as many of your affairs as possible for as long as possible.

  1. What happens after I complete my Lasting power of Attorney?

In England and Wales, it isn’t possible to start using a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) until it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). 
You can register the LPA yourself or have your loved one do it for you. In England and Wales, it takes between eight to ten weeks to register an LPA that has no mistakes in the application. If there are any errors, the registration will have to be submitted again. Remember that a Property and Financial Affairs LPA and a Health and Welfare LPA are separate from each other; each will need to be created and registered individually.

  1. Are Power of Attorney documents legally binding documents?

Yes a Power of Attorney is legally binding if it has been created correctly by an individual at a time when they have the mental capacity to do so. They must fully understand what they are doing at the time of making and registering the document.

  1. Can I ‘undo’ my Lasting Power of Attorney in the future?

In England and Wales, an individual can end their Lasting Power of Attorney, even if it has been registered, at any time as long as they still have mental capacity. To do so, they will need to make a written statement, known as a ‘Deed of Revocation’ and send it to the Office of the Public Guardian so that they can cancel registration of your Lasting Power(s) of Attorney.

  1. If I purchase and complete a Power of Attorney document with Portcullis, will Portcullis register the document for me?

Yes. When you create your LPA with Portcullis, registration is included in the fixed fee.

  1. What happens once the Power of Attorney has been registered? How does the donor’s bank know that I am now his/her Attorney?

You will need to inform your bank and other financial services providers that you have Power of Attorney to act. You will need to provide the relevant document to prove what you say. In England and Wales, this is the stamped Power of Attorney document you’ll get back from the OPG once the document is registered.

  1. I live in England or Wales and have an Enduring Power of Attorney, is this still valid?

In England and Wales Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) were replaced by Lasting Powers of Attorney on 1 October 2007. EPAs that were signed and witnessed before this date can still be used. EPAs only cover property and finances and must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian at the onset of the donor losing mental capacity.

  1. What is the difference between appointing Attorneys jointly or jointly and severally? Which is best?

If you instruct your Attorneys to act jointly, then all of them will have to agree to any decisions and every document must be singed by all of them.

If you instruct your Attorneys to act jointly and severally, then any of the Attorneys can make a decision or sign documents on their own or with each other. The option is advantageous because of the convenience and ability to act with speed. However this option does require you to have complete confidence in each of your Attorneys to act alone.

  1. How is mental capacity determined?

All adults are legally assumed to have mental capacity until it is proved otherwise. If there are disputes, the Mental Capacity Act 2005 sets out the principles that determine incapacity.

  1. What gifts can the Attorney make on behalf of the donor?

The Attorney can buy gifts or give gifts of money on behalf of the donor, including donations to charities. The attorney must only make gifts:

  • To people who normally receive gifts from the person
  • On suitable occasions, e.g. birthdays, weddings
  • To charities that normally receive donations from the person

 

Gifts must be reasonable, particularly in relation to the size of your estate. If you are in doubt about what gifts you can give as an Attorney, seek legal advice.

Unless the Attorney makes a successful application to the Court, they cannot give large gifts on behalf of the donor.

  1. What happens if one of the Attorneys dies before the donor?

If the Attorney dies before the Power of Attorney is being used, the donor will usually be able to create another Power of Attorney appointing a replacement Attorney. If the death occurs after donor has lost mental capacity, and they only have one Attorney, the Power of Attorney will become invalid. To minimize the impact of issues on this occurring, we recommend that you appoint a Replacement Attorney when creating your Power of Attorney.

  1. Can the donor’s money be mixed with the Attorney’s money or held in a joint account in the names of the donor and Attorney?

The donor’s accounts must be kept separate to the Attorney’s. In cases where there is already a joint account, such as a wife acting for her husband or vice versa, the providers of these accounts must be informed.

  1. What is a Replacement Attorney and should I appoint one?

A Replacement Attorney steps in if the original Attorney is no longer able to act on the donor’s behalf – in the event of their death, for example, or following a divorce. Appointing a Replacement Attorney is advised so long as you trust this person as your original Attorney.

  1. How do I amend my Power of Attorney after it is signed and witnessed?

The exact procedure varies according to the type of Power of Attorney and where you live. We could advise you at the time of need.

  1. What is a letter of wishes?

A letter of wishes is an informal document that can be made to accompany a Will. It is not legally binding, but is used to set out specific wishes that you may have such as special instructions for your funeral or particular wishes that you may have on how you’d like your Executor or Trustees to manage any trusts created in your Will. It can also be used to provide clarity around aspects of your Will such as why you may not have included someone as a beneficiary. You should no physically attach your letter of wishes to your Will as it may invalidate your Will.

  1. Do I need a letter of wishes?

You don’t necessarily need a letter of wishes but it is a good idea to consider making one as it helps make your wishes known and can prove very useful for your Executors and Trustees. We would strongly recommend a letter of wishes if you have a Discretionary Trust Will, if you are excluding an individual or if you are leaving your children unequal shares of your estate.

  1. Is a letter of wishes legally binding?

No, unlike a Will, a letter of wishes is not legally binding.

  1. When do I make a letter of wishes?

A letter of wishes is made after you have completed your Will.

  1. How do I change my Will?

You can change your existing Will by writing a new one or by creating a Codicil. A Codicil (like a Will) must be prepared, signed and executed in a particular way. We recommend that when changes are necessary you rewrite your Will. However, if you just need to update a person’s address in your Will this will not require a Codicil or new Will.

  1. Can I use a codicil from Portcullis to make an amendment to my Will if I didn’t make my original Will through Portcullis?

Yes. You don’t need to have written your original Will with us in order to create a codicil with us. If you already have a number of codicils to your existing Will or if you wish to make any major changes, then we would recommend you draft a new Will.

  1. How do I track the progress or status of a legal document?

You can call the office on 01752 401401, email morgan@portcullislegals.co.uk or drop by our Plymstock Law Store at any time to check on the process of your documents.

  1. What happens once my instructions have been taken?

Once we have taken your instructions either in store or at your home, the paperwork will be returned to head office to draft your Will. In most circumstances you will receive the first draft of your Will within 48 hours. At this point you can either sign off the draft as correct or make any amendments. We will keep sending you drafts until you are happy with your document. Once you are happy, we will send out an original version to be signed and witnessed.

  1. How do I pay for my legal document?

We accept cash, bank transfer and all major debit and credit cards. Electronic payments are processed using a secure payment server.

  1. How do I get a refund?

You just raise this with us and we look at each case on it’s merits but we act in a transparent and fair manner in line with Consumer Law.

  1. What is your feedback and complaints procedure?

We hope you’ll be really pleased with the service you receive from Portcullis, but if you have any concerns at all, please let us know. Alternatively we would be delighted to also here any positive feedback you may have. Either way, please contact the office on 01752 401401, or feel free to leave a review on Google.

  1. What are Trusts and how do they work?

A Trust is an arrangement where property is held by one party for the benefit of the other party/parties.
 There are different types of Trusts

Accumulation & Maintenance Trust

If you have young children (under 18) who you wish to provide for in the event that you (and your partner, if you have one) pass away, then we will include in your Will(s) an Accumulation & Maintenance Trust. The Trustees appointed by you can then provide your nominated children’s Guardian(s) with sufficient funds to care for your children until they reach 18 when they will inherit. You may choose a later age at which they should inherit although, from April 2006, if your child is not disabled there may be additional taxes to pay on the trust fund, subject to the amount held in the trust fund.

What’s the best way to provide for my disabled child? (Discretionary Trust)

Although not exclusively, a Discretionary Trust is often used by families who have a relative with a learning disability. Discretionary trusts are a way of putting in place financial arrangements to help support that relative.

A Discretionary Trust can also provide a way of owning property. Sometimes families decide that in the long-term they would like to be able to set up arrangements that allow their relative to continue to live at home with the necessary support. This is known as a life interest.

In summary, Discretionary Trusts are used:

  • As a way of paying for the things the statutory services may not be able to give, for example a holiday, a new coat or even additional care
  • As a means of owning, managing and maintaining a property
  • As a way of arranging an inheritance
  • So there is a way of managing money or other assets
  • To avoid benefits and care funding being stopped
  • Income Support – and possibly other benefits such as Housing Benefit – stops being paid if a person has more than a certain amount of money. Benefits are withdrawn or reduced until savings fall below the relevant level for the benefit. If Social Services fund a residential care place or care package they may also begin to charge for the care service or stop funding it. A Discretionary Trust can avoid this.

 

Once assets are put into the Trust they belong to the Trust not the person intended to benefit. He or she may get gifts or even payments from the Trust but they cannot be said to have any assets themselves. Trusts hold and invest assets. This can include the family home. It may provide a means of managing and maintaining a property. This is particularly useful when the person lacks legal capacity i.e. sufficient understanding to enter into a contract. Trusts are normally set up as part of drawing up a Will.

The key points about a Discretionary Trust are:

  • Trustees have discretion as to how the assets are used – the trustees are free to make all the decisions
  • The person to benefit from the Trust must not have a right to the income or capital
  • The intended beneficiary must not be the only person named in the Trust i.e. must not be the ‘sole’ beneficiary

 

Without these features the Discretionary Trust is not properly constituted and the person may be treated as though they own the house or have the money.

If you want to make some financial provision for a close relative who is dependent on welfare benefits and/or supported by Social Services do not say in your Will, “I hereby leave my worldly goods to x”. This will not provide a long-term nest egg. Consider instead including in your Will a Discretionary Trust – ask your Portcullis Will Specialist for further details.

How can I avoid the council selling my home if I’m taken into care? (Protective Property Trust)

It is illegal to deliberately transfer your own property to relatives or trusts if your prime motive is to avoid paying long-term care costs. However, it is not illegal for you and your partner to each make a provision in a Will, that upon the first death, the deceased’s half-share of the family assets and/or home, is placed in trust for their children or other beneficiaries, instead of passing direct to the surviving partner.

The Protective Property Trust Will has been specially designed for this purpose. It keeps the assets and/or share of the home owned by the deceased partner away from the council’s reach while at the same time allowing the surviving partner to continue benefiting from the assets and/or share of the home within the trust. On their death the assets and/or share of the home owned by the trust together with whatever is left of the assets of the second partner can be given to the surviving family.

  1. What about Inheritance Tax?

If the value of your Estate after payment of your debts and any gifts to your husband or wife or to charity is worth more than £325,000 (2015/16 tax year), then Inheritance Tax will be payable at 40% on the value over this amount. However, if when you die you are a widow/widower or bereaved civil partner your allowance is £650,000.

The information provided is of a general nature. if you wish to receive individual advice then we suggest you seek the advice of an independent financial adviser. Portcullis will be happy to refer you to one if you wish.

  1. What is a gift made “free of tax”?

A gift is free of tax when any Inheritance Tax, if it is payable, is to be paid out of your Residuary Estate and not to be deducted from the gift itself. When instructing Portcullis to draft your Will you can specify which gifts, if any, you would like to be subject to tax. All gifts to charities are by law totally exempt of Inheritance Tax.

  1. What does it mean if I give someone a “life interest” in my Estate?

If your responsibilities are “divided”, e.g. you wish to ensure that your partner is adequately provided for but feel you have a duty towards, say, children from an earlier marriage, then you may wish to consider giving your partner a “life interest” in your Estate. This restricts the partner’s inheritance to the income (interest earned) on your capital or specified sum. If you own your home outright or own a share as tenants-in-common then you may also wish to give your partner the right to live in your home rent free until they die, remarry or for only, say, a specified period. Once they die or after the specified event has taken place then your home and/or the capital sum will pass to whoever you have specified in your Will, such as your children.

You should, however, bear in mind that unless your Estate is fairly large, the income from it may be insufficient to support your partner. A gift of a life interest also causes the duties of the Executors and Trustees to be more onerous.

When considering a gift of a life interest, it is very important to remember that the recipient does not own the property or capital sum and therefore cannot dispose of it in his or her own Will. It is also important to remember that the prime duty of your appointed Trustees is to keep a fair balance between income for the person getting a life interest and capital growth for those who will be ultimately entitled to your Residuary Estate.

  1. What are trustees?

Trustees are the people appointed to look after your assets in the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries, for example until a child is old enough to inherit. Usually Executors and Trustees are the same people. Trustees can be other family members, friends or professionals.

  1. What happens to property in joint names?

People who co-own a property hold it either as “joint-tenants” or as “tenants-in-common”. Husbands and wives are usually, but not always, joint-tenants. This means that when one of them dies the other one automatically becomes the owner of the whole of the property. If you own property as a joint tenant, you cannot gift your share of the property in your Will.

Partners who have been married before often prefer to own the property as tenants-in-common. This means that when one of them dies his or her interest in the property forms part of his or her Estate. They can separately make a gift in their Will of their share of the property, perhaps to their own children from a previous marriage.

If you own your property as joint tenants, but would like to own it as tenants in common, Portcullis can arrange this for you and arrange the relevant changes to your deeds. If you don’t know whether you are joint-tenants or tenants-in-common, you can also instruct us to find out for you.

These principles also apply to other jointly owned assets such as bank and building society accounts and other investments.