Common Question: “Why do I need Probate as my mum left a Will?”

This seems to be one of the biggest misconceptions – that if there is a valid Will in place there is no need for an application for the Grant of Probate to be made.

Most estates with or without a Will need to go through Probate but trust me it is far easier and cheaper to do this with a valid Will.

The Grant of Probate is the legal document that will allow your Executors a legal right to gather in your assets and then distribute them according to your Will.

Most organisations such as banks, building societies, life assurance companies need to ensure they are paying over a deceased person’s money to the correct person and the Grant of Probate is the proof. The Executors are named on the Grant and the organisations pay them accordingly to then pass over to the beneficiaries.

Generally speaking if someone owns a property and / or has over £15,000 of cash assets held with a bank/building society a Grant of Probate is going to be needed. Please note however that banks/building societies have their own rules so they may wish to see the grant for a lower figure than £15,000.

If the deceased held everything jointly with their spouse than the Grant of Probate is not going to be needed just simply show the death certificate to the bank/building society and they will remove the deceased spouse’s name.

All of the above deals with situations where the deceased left a will – what happens where there is no will? Well, the basic rules are the same but the people who will administer the estate are known as Administrators (instead of Executors). They will apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration (instead of a Grant of Probate) and the distribution of the estate will take place according to the rules of intestacy.

At Abbotts we are able to advise clients when dealing with Probate / Letters of Administration so if you need some assistance feel free to contact us (0845 313 3353 or

Life Interest Trusts – What is it and how do they work?

A Life Interest Trust (LIT), also known as an Interest in Possession Trust, is a document that names one or more beneficiaries to an estate and their entitlement to an income from assets held in trust over their life time.

This person is known as the Life Tenant. If that asset is a house or property, then the Life Tenant is entitled to either the rental income on the property, if it is rented out, or to live in the property if they wish to.

However, a Life Tenant is not entitled to receive any of the remaining capital from the Trust. The Trust can also name other beneficiaries who are entitled to the assets in the Trust once the Life Tenant has died. They are known as Residuary Beneficiaries or Remainder men. However, while the Life Tenant is alive they do not receive anything from the Trust unless the Life Tenant agrees to a distribution of the assets. LITs are designed to protect the c hildren of a marriage o r Civil Partnership in t he event that one partn er dies and the other remarries.

You can also make specific requests or instructions on a Life Interest Trust. As a Trust is overseen by Trustees, you can give them specific instructions as to how you would like the Trust to be managed.

For example: You can give the Trustees the power to either give or lend capital from the estate to the Life Tenant at their discretion. Where a property is involved, you can specify that if the Life Tenant wants to vacate the property they can then direct the Trustees to sell that property and buy another for the Life Tenant to occupy and you can give specific instructions as to how you would like any capital in the Trust to be invested.


A Life Tenant is treated as owning all of the assets held in Trust. Any income (such as rent) from the Trust belongs to the Life Tenant and is therefore taxed according to the beneficiary’s personal income tax rate.

No additional income tax is paid by the Trust. One major advantage of the LIT is that it protects the assets in the Trust from being used up during the lifetime of the Life Tenant. So if a Life Tenant goes into full time nursing care, the local authority cannot take the assets in the Trust to pay for the care of the Life Tenant.

A Life Interest Trust is particularly useful if a couple have children and want to make sure that they benefit from the estate of either partner. This can be contrasted with a trust which simply gives a right to reside in the property. A perfect solution to a remarriage with children from a previous relationship.

A trust of this nature does not give the occupant a right to income from the trust and is not therefore taxed as an income in possession trust.

Abbotts are able to complete Life Interest Trusts for £250 plus VAT within your Mirror Wills (£216 incl VAT). For more information please contact us on 0845 313 3353 or email us

Court of Appeal rules mixed-up mirror wills are invalid – Has your Will been signed correctly?

The England & Wales Court of Appeal has confirmed that mirror wills executed by an elderly couple are void because each spouse accidentally signed the other’s will.

A decision in the case of Marley v Rawlings was made reluctantly because the couple Mr and Mrs Rawlings had clearly intended the Wills to take effect. Both Wills gave on first death their estate’s to the other spouse then on second death everything was to pass to their adopted son Mr Marley.

The wills were prepared by the couple’s solicitor and executed in his presence in 1999. But neither the solicitor nor the other witness (his secretary) noticed that the wrong wills had been signed.

Mrs Rawlings died in 2003, but it appears the mistake was not noticed then, probably because all the couple’s property was held jointly and so passed by survivorship without the need for probate. However, it was noticed on Mr. Rawlings’ death in 2006. The couple’s two natural sons pointed out that the wills were on the face of it improperly executed, and that therefore they had died intestate. This has led to the two Rawlings sons inheriting the part of the estate governed by the intestacy laws, amounting to £70,000.

Has your Will been signed and witnessed correctly?

Will you be taking advantage of reduced Inheritance Tax (IHT)?

David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband have all agreed to give one tenth of their estates to charity when they die.

In an unusual cross-party move, the three leaders have signed up to support a campaign called Legacy10 to promote charitable giving.  Under government plans to promote the campaign – which Mr Cameron sees as part of his Big Society agenda – new inheritance tax laws will also encourage legacy giving.

Delighted: Labour leader Ed Miliband said he was happy to join the PM in supporting the initiative.

With effect from April any estate which leaves at least 10 per cent of its taxable wealth to a charitable cause will be able to take advantage of a reduced rate in inheritance tax, from its current level of 40 per cent down to 36 per cent.

The leaders join a growing band of businessmen and celebrities who have made the pledge, including Sir Richard Branson, architect Lord Rogers, Charles Dunstone – co-founder of The Carphone Warehouse – the banker Jacob Rothschild and Olympics boss Lord Coe.

Downing Street confirmed that Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg had agreed to sign up to the pledge.

In a statement to the Mail, Mr Miliband said last night: ‘I’m delighted to be supporting this important initiative. I hope the commitment will encourage many others to consider committing to leaving 10 per cent of their estate to charity in their will.’

Leading lobbyist and PR man Roland Rudd, founder and chairman of Legacy10, said: ‘I am so pleased all of our main political leaders have not only chosen to support Legacy10 but have made a personal commitment to change their wills to make the pledge.’



Mr Cameron is paid £142,500 but is thought to be worth several million pounds. His aides have denied suggestions he is worth £30million.



Cabinet ministers such as Mr Clegg are paid £134,565 and Mr Miliband gets the same.


At the moment 74 per cent of people support a charity during their lifetime but only 7 per cent of the UK population leave a charitable gift in their will.

Gifts to Children – A Cautionary Tale

When writing a Will it is highly possible that there will be a gift to a minor contained within it, or the possibility of a minor inheriting under a per stirpes clause. It is worth considering what actually happens with such a gift and who should act as a Trustee in such circumstances.

Money can bring out the worst in people as Claire Sproston found out after discovering her father and stepmother had stolen the inheritance she had been left in her grandfather’s Will Miss Sproston’s grandfather, Benjamin, passed away when she

was just 13 and had made a Will naming his six grandchildren as Beneficiaries, each receiving an equal share of his £50,000 life savings . Miss Sproston’s inheritance was placed in trust until she turned 18.

When she reached the landmark age, Miss Sproston enquired about the money only to be told by her father, Nigel, that he changed the trust and she would have to wait until she was 21 to receive her inheritance. It was only after Miss Sproston consulted her cousins that she realised something was afoot and that her father would not have been able to alter the terms of the trust. She promptly went to see a solicitor who discovered the sad truth; her inheritance had gone.

Nigel Sproston and wife Jane were found guilty of fraud at Cardiff Crown Court and jailed for ten and nine months respectively. The couple lied to solicitors and an investment company as well as forging Miss Sproston’s signature in order to get their hands on the £13,000 inheritance. The Telegraph reported that Nigel Sproston, who pleaded guilty to fraud, told police he “spent £2000 of it paying off debts, £5000 on a holiday for myself, gave £1500 to charity and the rest just got frittered away.”

His wife denied the charge but was found guilty nonetheless. Speaking after the verdict, mother-of-one Miss Sproston, now 22, said: “I’m still denying to myself, really, that either of them could have done what they did. When I first found out what my father had done, he told me he did it out of anger because we were naughty as kids.” “My dad has never told me what he did with my money. I don’t know if I will ever get it back.”

It is always worth ensuring you know and trust whoever it is you are appointing as Trustees. Contact us for further information or to discuss Professional Trustee options ( or 0845 313 3353).


  • Will Writing Services

    A will is one of the most important legal documents you will ever produce, and is the only way to ensure that your wishes are carried out and your estate is divided in the way that you choose.

  • Probate Services

    Probate is a legal process that occurs once an individual has died, where your Executors/Personal Representatives handle your estate, including taxes, debts and distributions of inheritance.

  • Estate Planning

    Sometimes your circumstances may require additional clauses in your will to protect your assets against remarriage or bankruptcy or divorce of a beneficiary or to assist in mitigating inheritance tax.

    We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website.