Wills & Trusts
Making a Will
Making a Will is the only way you can be sure that your wishes will be followed after you die. If you do not make one, all or part of your Estate may go to people who you never intended to benefit. Not only that, inheritance tax legislation means that, if you don’t prepare properly, a substantial part of what you leave behind may be payable in taxes.
Wills are not solely about passing on your assets. You can also include specific funeral arrangements. For instance, burial, cremation or the use of your body for medical research can be specified in your Will. You may also want to appoint legal guardians to care for your minor children if you and your partner should both die before they are eighteen. Another important consideration is the appointment of Executors. These are the people who will deal with your Estate in the event of your death. Ideally these should be business minded family or friends, or professional advisers. It is possible to appoint more than one Executor, for example, a family member and a professional who can act jointly.
If you have business or farming assets it is essential that you take professional advice and ensure that these are dealt with in the most tax efficient manner. Inheritance tax is a tax that is paid on your Estate when you die as well as on some assets that you may have given away during your lifetime. Under current legislation, if the Estate you leave behind is less than the “nil rate band”, your beneficiaries will not have to pay inheritance tax.
However, if your Estate is worth more than this threshold inheritance tax may be payable.
Further details of the current tax threshold are available on the HM Revenue & Customs website, There is an exemption for assets left to UK charities or those within the European Union. Spouses and civil partners also benefit from transferable nil rate bands so that if all your assets pass to your surviving spouse or civil partner on your death then on their death an amount up to twice the available nil rate band at that date may be available. However, these do not apply to couples who are simply living together.
Inheritance tax is a complex subject and if you have a potentially large Estate you should seek professional advice from your solicitor or specialist tax adviser. It is important to review your Will regularly – ideally at least once every five years. You should also review your Will after any major change in your family circumstances (such as death, divorce or bankruptcy) or any publicised change to tax legislation.
Decisions to Make Before You Write a Will
One of the first decisions to make when writing a Will is choosing the Executors. These are the people who will be responsible for carrying out the instructions in your Will after you die.
It’s important to choose someone who will be able to handle the pressure because the role of an Executor can be demanding. It is advisable to name a second or substitute Executor especially if your primary Executor is your partner or spouse.
You should also consider who would be Guardian to any children under 18 years old. If you are setting up a Trust as part of your Will, you will need to name the Trustees who will manage the money or property until it passes to the beneficiaries.
When it comes to your possessions you can list specific legacies in your Will. For example if you want to leave a piece of jewellery or a family heirloom to a family member, these legacies can be written into your Will; along with any money you would like to donate to charity.
Steps to making a Will
- Prepare a list of assets and liabilities (including any jointly held assets) so that your solicitor can estimate the value of your Estate and advise you on any tax saving steps which you can take.
- Write down the full names and addresses of those who you would like to be Executors of your Will and guardians of your minor children.
- Make a note of how you wish to divide up your Estate and ensure that you have made proper provision for your family and friends first. Make a list of their full names and addresses for your solicitor.
A trust is commonly used to help minimise tax payments, control your assets, protect your legacy and look after your loved ones.
There are many different types of trusts, but the general principle is that through the creation of a trust, the trustees look after assets on behalf of beneficiaries.
At Stewarts Solicitors we can help arrange your trust in a manner that best suits you and your wishes.
Through a trust you can:
- Protect any compensation payouts
- Make a gift of your family home
- Ensure your heirs have timely access to your Estate
- Administer your Estate privately (rather than through probate which becomes a matter of public record)
- Specify the terms of the trust. Controlling when and to whom assets should be distributed. This can be particularly useful where there are complex family situations such as children from multiple marriages
- Help protect your assets from your beneficiaries creditors
- Protect death benefits from being considered part of your Estate for tax purposes
- Choose your trustees
- Protect vulnerable or disabled beneficiaries
- Protect your legacy
Personal Injury is used to describe any type of injury you suffer due to someone else’s lack of care and attention or negligent behaviour.
Personal Injury claims usually arise from someone else’s negligence and can involve many different situations such as an accident at work, a slip, trip or fall, or being involved in a car accident. The resulting injury can be serious and life-changing, with long term health and financial implications.
Our personal injury solicitors have secured compensation in many different types of personal injury actions.
Road Traffic Accidents
You can claim compensation for road traffic accident injuries if the accident was caused by the fault of another motorist, person or party. You can claim compensation if you were injured as a driver, a passenger, and a pedestrian or if you were riding a motorbike a bicycle or a horse at the time of the accident. You can also claim if you are partly to blame for the accident.
Accident & Injury at Work
When at work you expect to be in an environment where the proper measures have been taken by your employer to adhere to Statutory Duties to protect you in the workplace, whether it be an office, factory or your place of trade. If you have sustained an injury as a result of an accident at work it can be daunting to know where to begin in making a claim for compensation against your employer.
Injuries in Public Places
All companies have a duty of care to visitors to their premises, including members of the public or employees from other companies, to ensure that they are not at risk of injury while visiting them. If it can be proved that insufficient Health & Safety provisions were made; then you may well be entitled to get compensation.
Councils also have a responsibility to ensure that all pavements, roads and bridle paths are clear of defects and well-maintained to avoid accidents.
Unfortunately a large number of people fall victim to an accident abroad, contracting an illness or suffering from an unforeseen injury. Any accident, illness or injury suffered of holiday can of course cause pain and upset, and in addition, often results in disruption to the remaining time spent abroad. However in circumstances such as these there are laws in place to protect those who are the victim of an incident abroad which occurred as the result of circumstances outside of their control.
Asbestos Related Illnesses
Asbestos can be very dangerous. It does not present a health risk if it is undisturbed, but if material containing asbestos is chipped, drilled, broken or allowed to deteriorate, it can release a fine dust that contains asbestos fibres.
Sexual & Physical Abuse
We do understand how extremely difficult it is to come forward and talk about any sexual or physical abuse that you or a close family member has suffered. We know how traumatic the recollection of events can be, and our solicitors will do all they can to ensure that you feel safe and secure throughout the claims process.
In any abuse claim, the abuse of trust can be the most difficult aspect to come to terms with. If you have been subjected to abuse from someone who was in a position of trust, such as a carer, parent or professional, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
Hearing Loss Claims
Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) also known as Industrial Hearing Loss, is a work related condition that results in the loss of hearing (often over a prolonged period of time) as a consequence of a person’s working environment. Hearing loss often appears years, if not decades later from the original exposure meaning many people do not identify their work as the cause.
Motoring & Criminal
Stewarts Solicitors has a long tradition of skilled representation in criminal proceedings. We provide essential advice and representation in all local criminal Courts and at Police Stations.
In this area of law, it is essential that clients are able to rely upon the skill and experience of their Solicitor to protect their legal rights and personal freedom at all times. Our motoring & driving law department has a highly qualified team with many years of experience.
We cover the whole of Northern Ireland an appear at criminal courts in Antrim Court Solicitors; Armagh Court Solicitors; Ballymena Court Solicitors; Banbridge Court Solicitors; Coleraine Court Solicitors; Craigavon Court Solicitors; Downpatrick Court Solicitors; Dungannon Court Solicitors; Enniskillen Court Solicitors; Laganside Court Solicitors; Magistrates Court Solicitors; Limavady Court Solicitors; Lisburn Court Solicitors; Londonderry Court Solicitors; Derry Court Solicitors; Magherafelt Court Solicitors; Newry Court Solicitors; Newtownards Court Solicitor; Omagh Court Solicitors and Strabane Court Solicitors.
Our experienced family law department offers a full range of services to assist those going through a breakdown in their family relationship.
Many of our divorce solicitors and separation solicitors are also certified Collaborative lawyers, an organisation committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes through non-confrontational communication.
Our Family Solicitors encourage solutions that consider the needs of the whole family, in particular the best interests of any children or dependants.
Our domestic violence and protection from harassment solicitors offer a free initial consultation about domestic violence or abuse in a relationship. The law seeks to protect those people who find themselves in situations where they are subjected to such abuse. The family courts have the ability to make non-molestation and occupation orders and we can help you apply for an ‘injunction’ if you’ve been the victim of domestic violence.
Many of our children law solicitors are accredited members of the Children Order Panel. Our children lawyers are experienced in assisting parents and guardians of children by providing sound, clear advice on the legal requirements and the legal remedies available in relation to parental responsibility, contact and residence of children, together with Prohibited Steps Orders and Specific Issue Orders. We can also assist in Private Law proceedings, if you are applying to adopt a child, or if you are objecting to someone trying to adopt your child.
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