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Georgina Vanden Berghe Case Studies - Wills & Probate

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Please find latest case studies from Georgina Vanden Berghe in our Wills and Probate department.

Trust arrangements

We have recently been instructed by several clients who had transferred their family homes into trusts during their lifetimes. These types of trusts are commonly known as asset protection trusts, or family protection trusts. These trust arrangements are typically entered into for the purpose of preserving their wealth for future generations, and safeguarding against erosion of their estates by care home fees. Often, these complex trust arrangements are sold by estate planners, who do not take into account, or advise upon, the adverse legal and tax implications of doing so.

The client and his late wife had transferred the family home into a trust almost 10 years prior to instructing us. This meant that his estate on death would not have been able to benefit from the residence nil rate band (£175,000), nor the transferable residence nil rate band from his late wife’s estate (an additional £175,000). This is because, in order to claim the residence nil rate band, a deceased person must have owned residential property which passes to his or her direct descendants under their terms of their will or intestacy.

We advised our client and the other trustees of the trust to appoint the property out of the trust to him, and to have a will leaving the property to his children. By doing so, his estate’s inheritance tax bill would be reduced by £140,000.

When we are dealing with clients who are considering updating their wills and who wish to carry out estate planning, we need to have a full picture of their estates, taking into account their assets, any trusts they may have set up during their lifetimes and any substantial gifts they may have made.

Our charges for dealing with matters such as these depend on the complexity of the work involved, and the amount of time it would take to carry out the work and admin on it. We do always, however, aim to agree a fixed fee with our clients at the outset.

Grant of probate

In 2020, I was contacted by a colleague in our conveyancing department to ask for my assistance in relation to the sale of a property held by a client in her sole name. A few days before the anticipated exchange date, the client had died unexpectedly. The property had been a difficult one to sell, and there had been several occasions when the buyers had withdrawn their offers. The client’s family were therefore keen on the sale proceeding as quickly as possible.

Where a property is held in the sole name of a person who has died, a grant of representation is always required. In this case, the client had died leaving a will, so a grant of probate was required. The executor of the will instructed me to prepare an application for the grant of probate, and provided me with the information required over the following days.

The probate registry was, at that time, inundated with applications for grants of probate following the first Covid-19 lockdown, and applications were taking between 6 and 10 weeks to process. I submitted the application and requested that it be expedited, given the circumstances. A grant of probate was issued 15 days after the death of the client, and the sale was able to proceed in the name of the executor.