Losing a loved one is always deeply distressing. The adversity of the experience can easily be compounded if they have named you the executor of their will. However, before you can start managing their assets, you will need to establish whether you would need a grant of probate.
What is a grant of probate?
This term – often abbreviated as simply ‘probate’ – refers to a legal document you would show to numerous organisations, such as banks and the Land Registry. It confirms that you are authorised to deal with your recently departed loved one’s estate.
A grant of probate is not always needed where the estate is of low value or comprises of limited assets. It’s also possible that, if the deceased owned their assets jointly with someone else who is still alive, ownership is automatically transferred to this person upon the other’s death. Obtaining legal advice at an early stage in the process is beneficial to assist you in determining whether a grant of probate is required.
How long does a grant of probate take?
On average, it can take a year from a person’s death to complete probate and distribute the estate. If the estate is less complicated, then it may take less time. However, the probate process could still take at least six months. It depends on the value and complexity of the estate.
The process begins by establishing the assets and liabilities of the estate. We then calculate whether Inheritance Tax is payable. Then, you must complete an application to the probate court to appoint an executor or executors of the estate. Before a grant of probate can be issued, any outstanding inheritance tax that’s due from the estate will need to be paid. There will often be exemptions and allowances available. These can reduce the tax payable, or may mean that no Inheritance Tax is due.
Do I need a solicitor for a grant of probate?
You don’t always need the assistance of a solicitor in obtaining a grant of probate. However, the legal and financial stakes can be so high that a solicitor’s assistance is often recommended.
Remember that if any beneficiaries of the Will take issue with how you have administered the estate, they could take legal action against you. You can get valuable peace of mind from a solicitor making sure the probate application process in your case is legally watertight.
For expert advice as to whether a grant of probate is required please contact one of our expert solicitors either based at our offices in Nuneaton or Warwick. Our website includes further guidance on obtaining probate, while we can also advise you over the phone. Please telephone our offices on 024 7638 2343 to make an appointment.
Watching your children grow up isn’t easy and it’s even harder letting go of them. As a parent, you will do anything to ensure your children’s happiness and success. This may even include transferring ownership of property onto your child.
Whether you want to give your child a step up onto the property ladder or help them avoid paying Inheritance Tax, transferring ownership may be a good option for you. While this is not the most sentimental process for passing over your property to the next generation, it will ensure unwanted mistakes are avoided.
Here we will break down the process of transferring ownership to children and address any concerns that may occur during the process.
Do I need a solicitor to transfer ownership of a property?
The process of transferring equity to your child is exactly the same as with a spouse. In order to add your children to the title deeds and transfer them a share of equity, you will need the help of a solicitor.
A conveyancing solicitor can help you with this process. They will be able to advise you on the best options for you and your family. They will also handle the legal work and documentation.
If you have a mortgage on your property, you will need to consult your mortgage lender. This is to ensure that the mortgage will still be paid once your child is added to the deed. The conveyancer is also responsible for logging the changed details of ownership to the land registry. They will also calculate any stamp duty liable to HMRC.
To learn more about the transfer of equity, read our article that breaks down the step by step process.
What is shared ownership?
When transferring equity to your child, you need to decide what type of shared ownership works best for you. Shared ownership allows buyers to purchase a share of a property. It is an excellent option for helping your child get onto the property ladder. Through shared ownership, you can either become joint tenants or tenants in common.
Tenants in common allow owners to have different shares of the property. It is the most common choice for parent-child ownership. When one owner passes on, the property doesn’t automatically go to the other owner. Instead, shares are typically passed on in a will.
For joint tenants, 50% of the property is transferred to the other tenant. This is a more common choice for spouses. Full ownership automatically passes on to the surviving party. Though, it must be noted that you can switch between these two options. You don’t have to settle on one if your circumstances change.
What if my child is under 18?
Though minors are not legally able to hold property in their own name, they have property held in trust until they turn 18.
Trust properties are managed by trustees, an individual or financial institution that manages the property. Trustees must act in accordance with the best interests of the beneficiary and the wishes of the trustor (the entity that opened the trust). Solicitors will take care of setting up the trust deed and manage any legal formalities.
Gifting property is a more tax-efficient way of transferring property to your children. When you gift your property to your child, they may not have to pay Inheritance Tax when you pass away. Inheritance Tax only applies to those whose estate is valued at £325,000 or more and starts at 40% above that figure.
Though, it is worth noting that your children only avoid paying Inheritance Tax completely on a gift if you live for another seven years after gifting the property. If this is not the case, Inheritance Tax will need to be paid by the end of the sixth month after your death. If you die within three to seven years, however, your children will benefit from tax relief. Tax relief, also known as tapered relief, means that the recipients of the gift do not have to pay the full 40%.
Can I gift my house to my child and still live in it?
The short answer is yes. Nonetheless, there are a few things to be aware of. If you transfer ownership but remain living in the property, this is treated as a ‘gift with reservation of benefit.’ In such a case, you reserve the right to live in or out of the property.
Tax rules, however, dictate that even if you live beyond the seven years, the property will remain as part of your estate on your death. This also means that your property will not be exempt from Inheritance Tax.
In order for your property to be exempt from Inheritance Tax, you will need to pay rent to your child. But the rent you pay must be in line with the market rate, the average rate in the area. Also, bear in mind that your child is liable for paying income tax on the rent you pay them.
Is it better to gift or inherit property?
In the transfer of ownership from parent to child, it’s often better to inherit rather than gift property. This is because of the capital gains implications. Capital Gains Tax (CGT) refers to tax paid on the ‘profit’ individuals make on a property. The profit is the difference between the cost basis (purchase price) and the value of the property when gifted.
If you gift your property, your child’s cost basis will be the same as yours- regardless of what the property is currently worth. Let’s say you purchased your home for £150,000. The property is now worth £250,000. Your child’s cost basis will still be £150,000. If your child inherits your tax basis, they will have a capital gain of £100,000. This is the difference between the purchase price and current value.
This adjustment is referred to as a ‘stepped-up basis.’ If your child decides to sell the property after they inherit it, this will help reduce their capital gains tax liability.
Risks of transferring ownership of property
Aside from the capital gains implications, there are other risks to consider before signing over your home.
Once the transfer is complete, you will no longer be the legal owner. This means that you have no rights to the property. This could leave you in a vulnerable position. For instance, in the event of a fallout, your child has the right to evict you. Moreover, if your child decides to sell the property or live there themself, they can force you out despite your wishes.
On the other hand, if your child is going through a divorce from their spouse, the property could become part of a divorce settlement. This means that the property could be sold regardless of your family’s wishes.
If you’re thinking of transferring ownership of property to your child, we can support you every step of the way with our transfer of equity services.
Contact one of our qualified solicitors today to ensure that your assets are managed in the best interests of your family.
Let’s face it, thinking about leaving your loved ones behind can be pretty daunting. Many people put off writing a Will as no one wants to think about their own mortality. However, writing a Will is simply about making sure that your loved ones have clarity regarding your wishes when you pass away. That’s got to be worth reconsidering, right?
Knowing where to start isn’t always easy, especially if you’re not well-versed in legal jargon. And for this reason, lots of people choose to seek professional help from a solicitor. But, the question is, do I need a solicitor to make a Will? More importantly, will seeking the services of a solicitor make a difference? We hope to offer some clarity.
Can you make your own will without a solicitor?
A will is the only way you can make sure that your estate goes to the people and causes you care about. With that in mind, making a Will isn’t something you should take lightly.
First, you value your estate, decide who will get what and choose your executor. Then, the next step will be to write it all down. The good news is that there isn’t a need for a Will to be drawn up or witnessed by a solicitor. So, if you would like to make a Will yourself, it is possible to do so. However, if you decide to make a DIY Will, it’s important to make sure that it is valid. Using the wrong wording, or failing to observe the necessary formalities could impact how your wishes are executed or totally invalidate your Will.
When is it best to use a solicitor to make a will?
Disputes and misunderstandings are all too common problems for loved ones. In some cases, disputes may result in considerable legal costs that could potentially impact the value of the estate. With this in mind, it is usually worth seeking the services of an experienced solicitor, even if your financial situation isn’t complicated.
Say, for example, you have children with a previous partner. You will want to make sure that they are not left short. Having a solicitor advise you and prepare your Will can prove extremely useful. The solicitor will make sure that your Will has the effect that you want.
The benefits of using a solicitor to make a will
Using a solicitor to write a Will can offer you much-needed peace of mind. Let’s take a look at the benefits of using a solicitor to make a will.
You can appoint your solicitor as your executor. Deciding who to appoint as your executor can be tricky as there’s a lot involved. You need to appoint someone that you trust and who will be willing to take on such a big responsibility. A solicitor may be the perfect choice as they are experienced in estate administration and can easily navigate the process in accordance with the law.
If something goes wrong, you’re protected. You can make a complaint to your solicitor’s firm if you run into any problems.
Minimise the risk of mistakes. Using a solicitor will reduce the chance of your Will being invalid due to common mistakes, such as incorrect wording and using the wrong witnesses.
Save you time and money. A solicitor will take care of all the complicated bits for you
You will get expert advice and support. Solicitors will generally store the original copy of your Will in a fireproof safe at no additional cost.
How can Bromfield Legal help?
Here at Bromfield Legal, we work closely with you to tailor your Will to your specific needs. We will also help you manage your expectations about how your wishes will likely be dealt with when you pass. You can put your trust in our expert advice and support to make sure that your estate is divided properly and fairly.