Wills and Estate Planning
Your Will is one of the most important documents you will ever write.
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Not only does it ensure that after your death, your estate is dealt with according to your wishes and that your family is provided for, it also gives you the opportunity to pass on your wealth in the most tax-efficient manner possible.
A Will needs regular review. It is likely that your personal circumstances will change over time, whether materially, or through marriage, divorce or the death of a family member. We recommend a Will review at regular intervals, at least every 5 years, and especially in the wake of any significant events, to ensure that the Will is kept up to date with your wishes, your situation and changes to the law that may impact on it.
Dying intestate (without a will) will result in the law automatically determining who among your relatives (if any) will inherit your estate under what is known as the intestacy rules. Those rules preclude you from benefitting friends or charity.
Good estate planning goes beyond simply making a Will, however. It includes planning for the management of your estate later in life where you may not be able to due to a lack of mental capacity, as well as planning for the management of your estate on death. It also covers distribution of your estate during your lifetime, where you can afford to give assets away.
We can add real value through flexible, future-proof estate planning that accounts for your unique family circumstances and maximises the value of your estate.
We merge legal, practical and tax advice; passing an asset down a generation might be a good idea for inheritance tax purposes, but the practicalities of a young beneficiary with a valuable asset might make it inappropriate.
Our team members are frequently appointed, in appropriate circumstances, to act as professional executors of Wills or trustees of trusts you might create, so not only do we advise on the creation of structures for estate planning but we are actively involved in the management of those structures, giving continuity between generations and independent professional input.
We advise clients across the UK and internationally, with particular expertise in Wills and estate planning for those with substantial wealth and complex considerations such as international assets and family members, philanthropic plans, blended families, disabled and vulnerable dependants, business assets, real estate, heritage assets and agricultural assets.
Our wills and estate planning solicitors can advise on:
- All available tax planning options;
- Choice of executors and guardians for your children;
- Distribution of your personal effects;
- Ongoing trust structures;
- Wealth structuring;
- Succession planning;
- Planning for care home fees;
- Lasting Powers of Attorney;
- Blended families;
- Vulnerable dependants;
- Family members in other countries;
- Assets in multiple jurisdictions;
- Business assets;
- Real estate;
- Farms, rural estates and agricultural property;
- Heritage assets;
- Charitable bequests;
- Art bequests;
- Digital assets.
Why choose BDB Pitmans for Wills and estate planning?
1 Independently accredited specialist expertise in Wills and estate planning
Many of our team are members of the Society of Estate and Trust Practitioners (STEP ), the global professional body, comprising lawyers, accountants, financial advisors and other practitioners that help families plan for their futures. Our team is ranked by Chambers and Partners for Private Wealth Law and by the Legal 500 for Personal Tax, Trusts and Probate, providing independent assurance of our leading expertise.
2 Decades of combined specialist experience
With decades of experience advising high-level clients across all aspects of Wills and estate planning, our team can provide detailed guidance on the very best solutions for even the most complex matters.
3 A tailored approach to match your unique requirements
Every estate and every family are different. We devise bespoke plans to work in your specific situation.
4 Astute advice to make your wealth go further
Combining intelligent estate planning and wealth structuring, we can limit the tax burden on your assets now and when they are passed on, preserving more for your chosen beneficiaries.
Our wills and estate planning services
1 Inheritance and capital gains tax planning
A key objective for many clients in estate planning is to manage their exposure to tax.
Whether assets are to be given away during lifetime (outright or into a trust) or on a death, we provide options and advise on the tax impact of each, making you aware of all the reliefs and exemptions that might be used in your specific circumstances.
We advise on:
- The ‘gifts with reservation of benefit’ inheritance tax trap and the pre-owned assets tax (POAT) charge;
- Exemptions and reliefs including gifts to charity, business, agriculturaland heritage assets;
- Giving gifts through a will;
- Legacy 10 – the reduced rate of inheritance tax for those who leave at least 10% of their estate to charities;
- Life assurance;
- Lifetime giving to individuals and through trusts;
- Reviewing and establishing trusts with tax advantages;
- Transferring unused nil-rate allowances from the deceased to the surviving civil partner or spouse.
2 Choosing executors and guardians for children
Who you choose to be the executors of your will is one of the most important decisions you can make. Dealing with probate and the administration of an estate is a serious responsibility, and it is essential this is carried out correctly. This is equally true when it comes to nominating guardians for children should the need arise.
Our wills and estate planning solicitors can advise on:
- Who is an appropriate executor for your estate;
- Instructions for guardians on the care of children;
- Appointing independent professional executors and guardians where appropriate.
Find out more about our expertise with probate and estate administration
Trusts can be a very effective option for preserving wealth for future generations. They can be created for tax reasons, but more often than not they are created as a structure to control between generations or to provide for beneficiaries who cannot manage the assets themselves.
We can advise on all aspects of trusts, including:
- Interpretation and possible variation of the terms of trusts;
- Administering trust assets;
- Iincome tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax issues;
- Trustee duties andobligations;
- Trust accounts;
- Day-to-day bookkeeping;
- Making income and capital distributions;
- Compliance obligations;
- Winding up trusts.
Find out more about our expertise with setting up and administering trusts.
4 International estate planning
Estate planning for international assets, non-domiciled individuals and international families is complex and requires a high level of specialist expertise. This is an area in which our team have very strong experience.
Our solicitors can advise on:
- Your residence status in the UK whether moving here or leaving;
- Mitigating UK tax;
- International family businesses;
- Offshore trusts and wealth holding structures;
- Offshore trust disputes;
- Structuring your Will for worldwide assets.
Find out more about our expertise with international estate planning.
5 Planning for disabled and vulnerable beneficiaries
Where a loved one is likely to need ongoing care and support for their whole life, it is important to think about how this will be provided, both now and if you were no longer around.
We can advise on issues including:
- Financial provision for disabled and vulnerable dependants;
- Ensuring disabled and vulnerable people’s health and welfare needs will be met;
- Choosing guardians;
- Setting up and managing trusts for disabled and vulnerable people.
6 Succession planning
Business owners need to give careful thought to what should happen to their business when they are ready to step back or if they are no longer around. Having a clear succession plan in place helps to secure the future of your business and the financial prosperity of your loved ones.
We can advise on:
- Deciding how control of your business will be passed on;
- managing taxes on business assets;
- Providing for family members not involved in the business;
- Planning for unexpected events, e.g. if you were to lose the capacity to manage your business affairs;
- Appointing appropriate professionals to manage your business and its assets should the need arise
- Pre-exit planning.
7 Planning for care fees
Care home fees can make a huge dent in the value of your estate.
Our wills and estate planning solicitors can advise on:
- your estate’s liability for future care home fees;
- Protecting your family home;
- Structuring your Will to protect your family’s inheritance;
- Alternative methods of funding care fees, e.g. NHS Continuing Healthcare.
8 Lasting Powers of Attorney
It is important to consider what would you happen to your affairs if you were ever to lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself.
There are two types of lasting power: one for your health and welfare, the other for property and financial affairs.
Making a Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to nominate someone to run things when you are not able to do so for yourself.
We can assist with Lasting Powers of Attorney covering issues including:
- Where you would live if you were unable to care for yourself;
- Consent to or refusal of medical treatment;
- Consideration of your day-to-day care – including your diet and dress;
- Decisions relating to life sustaining treatment;
- Buying and selling of property;
- Opening, closing or operating any bank account, building society or other accounts;
- Dealing with your tax affairs;
- Claiming, receiving and using benefits, pensions, allowances and rebates;
- Paying your mortgage, rent, household expenses or care fees;
- Dealing with business or agricultural assets.
Find out more about our expertise with Lasting Powers of Attorney.
Insights from our wills and estate planning lawyers
- How ‘international’ wills can be a useful tool for clients
- A sign of the times: New rules on executing wills
- Witnessing of wills by video: a new way forward?
- Five bad reasons to put off making (or remaking) your will
- Who should benefit when you die
- Will our family face inheritance tax?
- Succession planning in family businesses
Speak to our wills and estate planning solicitors about how we can help you
To discuss how our solicitors can help you, please get in touch.
Related Services and Sectors
- Probate and Estate Administration
- Agriculture, Estates and Rural Business
- Family and Matrimonial
- International Tax and Estate Planning
- Family Mediation Services
- Residential Property
- Wealth Structuring
- Contentious Probate
Very timely responses, efficient, thorough and courteous. Also, the clarity of responses from BDB is impressive.
Chambers & Partners UK 2017