Michelle Hayter is a partner and head of Frettens' specialist dispute resolution team . A specialist in dealing with contentious wills and probate , she is recommended in the Legal 500 , an independent guide to the legal sector, for her work...
Making a will is one of the most positive things you can do for your family's future. Planning can ensure the best possible outcome for the generations to come.
Our team's proactive and understanding approach is recommended in the Legal 500, the leading independent guide to the UK's top law firms.
A will gives you control over the future of your assets and possessions, avoiding disputes or misunderstandings. Making the right choices depends on clear, practical advice.
At Frettens, we offer a wide range of Wills, probate and lifetime planning advice. Our team has a depth of experience and offers responsible, honest and friendly guidance on preparing or updating your will. We can also help you with:
- Estate administration & probate
- Grants of representations
- Powers of attorney
- Living wills / advance decisions
- Long term care planning
- Tax planning
- Court of Protection
- Deeds of variation
- Resolving disputes concerning wills & estates
- Equity release
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For information about our estate administration and probate costs, please visit our pricing page.
Our Wills and estate administration expertise
When it comes to making plans for the future or dealing with the final affairs of a loved one, you need a lawyer you can trust to make sure every important matter is dealt with. We offer a fully inclusive service that can cover all of your needs, from Will writing, to future care plans, to advice about vulnerable family members.
Writing a Will is the most important thing you can do to ensure your loved ones are taken care of after you pass away. If you do not make a Will, your money and property will instead be distributed according to the rules of intestacy which might not reflect your wishes. For example unmarried partners are not allowed to inherit under the rules.
Our Will solicitors can help you create a strong will that clearly reflects your wishes and ensures that everyone important in your life will be properly taken care of once you have passed away. We always draft Wills with tax efficiency in mind and we can provide advice about planning for Inheritance Tax and your options for reducing it.
We understand that losing a loved one is one of the hardest things you can go through in life. Having to go through probate at such a difficult time can feel overwhelming. Our probate solicitors have extensive probate and estate administration experience and approach all matters with the aim of taking as much pressure off as possible.
We can handle all aspects of the process on your behalf, including reviewing the Will (if there is one), handling money and closing the deceased’s bank accounts, paying debts, paying Inheritance Tax and distributing inheritance to the beneficiaries.
A key part of handling probate is applying for the grant of representation, a legal document that gives you the right to administer someone’s estate after they die.
The process differs depending on whether the deceased left a Will or whether they died intestate. We can provide clear advice on the process you need to go through and handle the application process on your behalf.
Making a power of attorney is the best way to plan for a future where you need extra support.
We are living longer than ever before which means many of us are at greater risk of being diagnosed with an illness such as dementia or having an accident during our lifetime. A power of attorney allows someone you trust (called an attorney) to make decisions for you in the event you become unable to make decisions for yourself in the future. Your attorney can be authorised to make decisions about your health and welfare and/or your financial affairs.
It is always worth considering a power of attorney to ensure your best interests are protected, no matter what the future brings.
Like powers of attorneys, living wills (now called advance decisions) allow you to express your wishes in case you lose the capacity to make a decision for yourself for the future.
Specifically, a living will allows you to refuse future medical treatment (including lifesaving treatment), for example, because you are unconscious or you have an illness such as dementia.
Not only does this allow you to make sure your wishes are respected and followed, it also saves your loves ones from having to make a difficult decision on your behalf.
As you grow older, you will probably be thinking about whether you will eventually need long term care and how this will be funded. It is common for people to feel concerned about the costs of care and particularly about the impact it will have on their loved one’s future inheritance.
We can provide practical advice about planning for long term care, including:
- The types of help available
- How care is funded and your entitlement to local authority funding
- Advice about paying for care and taking steps to protect your assets, including your family home
- Benefits advice
- Advice to carers and loved ones of people who need extra support
No longer is Inheritance Tax just a tax for the rich; rising property prices mean that it affects more and more people every year.
With a carefully drafted Will and specialist lifetime planning, you may be able to heavily reduce (or even eliminate) your liability for Inheritance Tax. We can provide advice on a wide range of wealth protection methods, including taking advantage of tax reliefs and exemptions.
Trusts are a great way to make the most of your money and property, both during your lifetime and after you pass away. They can be used to protect assets, tax efficiently pass on wealth to your loved ones, and provide for vulnerable family members.
If you are concerned that someone close to you is struggling to make their own decisions about things like their finances and personal welfare, we can help you take the necessary steps to support them.
Unless your loved one made a lasting power of attorney authorising you to make decisions on their behalf, you will need to apply to the Court of Protection to become a deputy.
The Court of Protection exists specifically to help people who lack mental capacity, for example, because of an illness such as dementia or a brain injury. As well as appointing deputies, the Court of Protection has the power to make a will on someone’s behalf and make important one off decisions about matters such as consent to medical treatment.
The process of applying is complex so consulting a specialist Court of Protection solicitor in these matters is essential.
You may be able to change a loved ones Will after their death so long as any beneficiaries left worse off by the changes give their consent. There are many reasons why you may want to vary a well including to:
- Reduce the amount of inheritance tax due
- Provide for someone who was left out of the will
- Make the will clearer
We can help you make a deed of variation to change the Will and will handle any associated legal matters such as filing a copy of the deed with HMRC if necessary.
Disputes over the validity of the Will, inheritance, and the way the personal representatives are handling the estate are all common issues that can arise after the death of a family member. These situations can be very distressing and, if not handled carefully, it is not uncommon for families to suffer permanent damage to their relationships.
Our contentious probate solicitors are highly experienced in helping clients resolve Will, inheritance, and estate administration related disputes. Our focus is to provide clarity on complex and combative situations to help individuals find solutions with their family without any unnecessary conflict.
As you grow older, you may reach a point where you need some extra income, whether to pay for living expenses, care, to go travelling, or to help a loved one onto the property ladder. You could sell your home and downsize, but it’s understandable if you want to stay put, particularly if you’ve lived there for many years.
If you are at least 55 years old, you could get an equity release to turn some of the equity in your home into cash. We can help you with the legal aspects of getting an equity release, including liaising with your provider.