Inherit, Inheritance tax, Uncategorized

No Inheritance Tax on estates worth up to £1 million? Not quite!

George Osborne announced the introduction of an additional Inheritance Tax (IHT) Nil Rate Band (NRB) for a person’s main residence in the Summer 2015 Budget. This was good news for with wealth tied up in their family home. The existing NRB of £325,000 per person or £650,000 per couple, on which 40% IHT is not paid, will remain the same. But from 2017/18, an additional Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) of £100,000 per person will be introduced, which will increase to: £125,000 in 2018/19; £150,000 in 2019/20; and £175,000 in 2020/21. In 2020/21, this means a house worth £1 million could be passed on tax free. But tax planning is still important, as there are a number of drawbacks you have to avoid in order to make sure you are eligible for the full amount.

Drawback 1 = you need to be married

Spouses* can inherit their other half’s share of an estate tax free so the NRB does not need to be used up. This means the deceased’s £325,000 NRB can transfer to the survivor, who will then have an IHT allowance of £650,000 when they die. The RNRB can also be passed on to the survivor so in 2020/21, this will equal £1 million. Unmarried couples do not have the right to pass on NRBs to each other.

Drawback 2 = only your children can benefit

Spouses who do not have children will miss out on the RNRB. The property must be passed to lineal descendants, such as children (including adopted/foster/stepchildren, children under a guardianship, and their direct descendants) and grandchildren, but not nieces and nephews.

Drawback 3 = the £1 million allowance does not apply now

The allowance will be phased in over the next five years so the £1 million will actually only apply in 2020/21.Drawback 4 = keep your wealth in your home

If you have a large investment portfolio and no house, you cannot benefit from the additional allowance, only the £325,000 NRB. But if your total estate is over £2 million, the RNRB will be tapered away. An estate with a net value of more than £2 million will see the band withdrawn at a rate of £1 for every £2 over the threshold.

Other points to consider


The RNRB may be lost where, for example, the property is placed into a discretionary Will trust for the benefit of the children or grandchildren.


The family home does not need to be owned at death to qualify. This helps those who may have downsized or sold their property to move into residential care or a relative’s home. The RNRB will still be available provided that:

  • The property disposed of was owned by the individual and it would have qualified for the RNRB had they retained it;
  • The replacement property and/or assets form part of the estate and pass to descendants;
  • Downsizing or disposal of the property has to take place after 8 July 2015. But there is no time limit on the period between disposal and death.

Multiple residences

Only one residential property will qualify. It will be down to the personal representatives of the estate to nominate which one should qualify if there is more than one. A property which was never the deceased’s residence, e.g. a buy-to-let, cannot be nominated.

*For ease, spouse will refer to civil partner as well.


Court of Protection, Disputed Will, heir, Inherit, Inheritance tax, Legacy, Power of Attorney, Probate, Wills

Chief Ombudsman says thousands ‘ripped off’ by unregulated will writers

From the BBC’s website 18 July 2011Last updated at 02:33

Thousands of people are being ripped off by companies providing unregulated services such as will writing, claims the first Legal Ombudsman.

In his first report, Chief Ombudsman for England and Wales Adam Sampson said the most complaints he saw concerned conveyancing, family law and wills.

He called for action to be taken to ensure consumers were not left vulnerable by unregulated services.

Only a tiny fraction of legal services must be provided by a qualified lawyer.

Many others including will writing, divorce, employment and immigration can be done by unqualified and unregulated individuals and organisations.

“One service which crops up a lot is will writing. It’s a service carried out often by will-writing firms who aren’t regulated,” said Mr Sampson.

“Because of this, customers are left with little means of redress when things go wrong.

“We’ve seen similar confusion about claims management companies, with lots of consumers believing they’re getting a legal service even though most of the work is carried out by a non-authorised person. Again, we can’t help.”

‘Unregulated cowboys’The legal ombudsman was appointed in October 2010 and can only act on complaints from those using the services of qualified lawyers.

Consumer organisation Which? and the Law Society have backed the ombudsman and called for more protection for customers.

They said bundling legal services with financial services, including those offered via the internet, had posed serious dangers for consumer protection.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “As the legal-services market continues to grow in both size and complexity, it’s crucial that consumers who have paid for a legal service that’s not up to scratch know where to turn to get help.

“We want the government and regulators to wake up to the current lack of clarity and to provide a clear and straightforward route of redress for consumers.

“The arrival of a legal-services market in which consumers will, potentially, have complaints about hybrid services poses some serious questions about who they’ll be able to turn to for help.”

Des Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society for England and Wales, said: “The gap in regulation which allows unregulated cowboys to operate in areas like will writing does not just cause unfair competition to solicitors, who provide a regulated, professional service.

“It is also damaging to consumers because the unregulated providers are not insured, do not provide a compensation fund and are not covered by the Legal Ombudsman’s scheme for consumer redress.”

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said will writing was an important issue and that it welcomed the report.

She added the department will await the outcome of the Legal Service Board’s ongoing work.


Want your Will handled by a professional, specialist solicitor? Please contact Tom Morrish or Charlotte Bandawe on 0113 250 7792 or Charles Clough, James Shingleton or Christina Fleming on 0113 224 8084.

Related stories:

The Law Gazette

The Legal Ombudsman’s Annual Report

heir, Inherit, Inheritance tax, Legacy, Probate, Wills

DIY Probate runs risk

News release from Solicitors For The Elderly

It is entirely possible to apply for probate and deal with an estate, without seeing a lawyer, but it’s not without risks warns legal group, Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE).

Many professionally drafted wills contain trusts to save tax, to avoid those who inherit paying care fees and to reduce the likelihood of potential disputes. SFE members have noticed an increase in ‘DIYers’ returning to them to seek advice when they have made a mistake or find the paperwork too tricky. Mrs A’s will had included a tax saving trust, but when her husband administered the estate, he paid the whole estate to himself. The solicitor was thankfully able to sort out the matter and avoid future complications occurring when Mr A eventually dies. In Mr G’s case, he sold some shares that had made a gain during the administration of his late sister’s estate and had to pay tax. If he had transferred the shares to himself first, before selling them, he could have avoided the tax.

Yorkshire Regional Co-Ordinator for SFE, Tom Morrish – a Partner at Morrish Solicitors – today said ‘People aren’t always aware of the complexities and assume probate work is straightforward. It is true that it can be, but it is just as true that sometimes it isn’t.  In all but the most straightforward cases, it is important to seek timely specialist legal advice that can actually save you money and worry.’

Many SFE members’ practices will offer to work in partnership with the deceased’s family to help and support them with the legal and technical work. As elder law specialists, members can even add value to their work, for example by identifying cases where money is owed to the estate for care funding, which should have been met by the NHS and assist in making a claim.


Charity, Disputed Will, Inherit, Wills

RSPCA challenges £2m North Yorkshire farm will ruling

From BBC website 29 November 2010 Last updated at 19:17

Christine Gill at Leeds Crown Court
A judge said it would be ‘”unconscionable” if Dr Gill did not inherit her parents’ farm

The RSPCA has challenged a ruling which overturned a will in which it was left a £2m farm estate in North Yorkshire.

Christine Gill, 59, of Northallerton, won a High Court battle last year to overturn the will, which left her parents’ farm to the charity.

Judge James Allen QC found that Dr Gill’s “domineering” father had coerced her mother into making the will.

On Monday, the RSPCA appealed against the findings at the Court of Appeal in London.

The case was heard by the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, sitting with Lord Justice Lloyd and Lord Justice Jackson.

Elspeth Talbot Rice QC, for the RSPCA, told the court that one of the issues for decision was whether the judge was “wrong to find that Mr Gill unduly influenced Mrs Gill into executing her will”.

Father ‘a bully’ Dr Gill, who is represented by counsel, is contesting the appeal.

Judge Allen said it would be “unconscionable” if Dr Gill did not inherit Potto Carr Farm, near Northallerton, where she voluntarily helped out during her spare time over a period of more than 30 years.

Mr Gill died in 1999, aged 82. It was only when her mother died in 2006, also aged 82, that Dr Gill saw the will, in which her parents had left the farm to each other and then to the RSPCA when both died.

The judge found that Dr Gill’s mother had wanted her daughter to inherit the farm but Mr Gill – who he described as a “bully” – had exerted pressure over his wife to favour the RSPCA.

Monday’s appeal is being closely watched by 10 other leading charities who released a joint statement saying they were “very concerned at its possible implications for the charity sector”.

Law ‘is clear’ The RSPCA said: “The RSPCA feels strongly that Mrs Gill’s testamentary wishes were clear and the judgment in favour of Dr Gill fails to recognise that.

“It also undermines the very essence of testamentary freedom that this country enjoys.

“The Gills had already provided substantially for their daughter during their lifetime, which included a large contribution towards the purchase of the farmhouse in which she now lives.

“Whilst the charity appreciates Dr Gill’s disappointment in failing to receive her mother’s estate, the law in this country is clear; individuals have the testamentary freedom to leave their estate to whoever they wish.”

The hearing was adjourned until Tuesday, when the judges are expected to reserve judgment.

This case shows clearly the risks involved in not leaving a Will which is a clear statement of your own intentions. Although the RSPCA alleges that they are obliged to pursue the legacy, the question arises whether the main beneficiary in all this litigation is perhaps the charity’s own lawyers.

Leaving a Will which clearly states your own intentions will help to avoid unnecessary distress, pain and litigation of those who you leave behind.

For further information, please contact our Yeadon office on 0113 250 7792.

heir, Inherit, Power of Attorney, Probate, Wills

Panorama expose stirs the pot

The Financial Times Adviser reports that The Will Writing Company is refuting claims made by Panorama’s broadcast last night (Monday 9 August) which exposed the lack of regulation of the willwriters industry. 

The Will Writing Company has hit back at the BBC Panorama programme that widely criticised unlicensed will-writers and a number of will-writing firms for unfair and unethical practices.

Not all will-writing companies were like those that were exposed on the programme claimed the Will Writing Company.

The documentary focused on three firms and highlighted the lack of standards that many will-writing companies subscribe to.

The Will Writing Company said it welcomed the program and as a founding member of the Institute of Professional Will Writers (IPW) since 1990 it recognised early on that proper training and ethical procedures would have to be an essential part of the industry.

It said the Panorama programme took the view that people should only go to a solicitor for will planning and should avoid professional will writers.

The Will Writing Company said solicitors actually need no personal development or qualifications in this area after university.

A member of the IPW has to demonstrate continuing professional development much the same as a financial adviser to retain their professional status.

Panorama refused to accept comment from IPW.

Tom Gormanly, managing director at The Will Writing Company, said: “Of course every industry will have people within it that will attract criticism, some wholly justified as in last night’s programme.

“But the tighter the controls and the better the training the less likelihood that anything untoward will happen.”

Mr Gormanly said his message to financial advisers was clear, not all will writers were the same and if you choose to use the service of one of them, just make sure they are a member of the IPW. 

Here at Morrish Solicitors our Wills, Probate and Elderly Client department consists entirely of qualified solicitors who have specialist training in this particular area of law.  They each undergo set units of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Training every year and are active members of Solicitors For The Elderly, Help The Aged and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners in the region. 

Solicitors are highly regulated for many reasons, including that the bonds of trust existing between a solicitor and client must, by their nature, be above suspicion.  The Solicitors Regulation Authority ensures that solicitors meet those high standards of trust and, where they fail, are subject to strict and just retribution. 

The public, and particularly the elderly, the dying and – yes – the dead, deserve to know their trust is well placed.

heir, Inherit, Legacy, Power of Attorney, Probate, Wills

BBC’s Panorama: Wills – The Final Ripoff?

In case you missed Monday night’s broadcast, here’s the link to watch the show on BBC’s website. 

Panorama investigates companies who make a good living from writing your Last Will and Testament, and exposes the shocking financial pitfalls that face unwary consumers. Is it time for this industry to be properly regulated by law?


Jeremy Vine
Vivian White
Stephen Scott
heir, Inherit, Legacy, Wills

Research shows ‘incompetence’ in will-writing

From The Law Society Gazette.

Two-thirds of trust and estate practitioners have encountered ‘incompetence or dishonesty’ in the will-writing market in the past year, according to research published today.

The study has prompted the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), which conducted the survey, to renew its calls for better consumer protection.

Responses from 693 STEP members showed that two-thirds had come across hidden fees which were not outlined in the stated price of a will, and 63% had experienced a will-writing company going out of business and disappearing with their clients’ wills.

Just over a third of respondents said they had seen cases where incompetence had led to significantly higher tax bills.

Examples of malpractice highlighted by the research included one company that approached young mothers in shopping malls and told them that their children would be taken into care if they died without a will.

In another case, a consumer was charged £12,000 up front for executor services, and the firm then went out of business, with the family unable to recoup the money.

STEP chief executive David Harvey said: ‘This research shows how widespread cowboy will-writers have become, and it is clear those who charge a fee for writing a will should now be regulated.

‘They must have an appropriate qualification, and they must have proper indemnity insurance. Soon the consumer will be protected by new regulation in Scotland, and this benefit needs to be extended to cover the rest of the UK.’

The Legal Services Board launched a review of unregulated will-writing in June, and is seeking evidence of consumer harm. The Scottish parliament is currently going through the process of regulating non-lawyer will-writers through the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill.

STEP recently launched the STEP Certificate in Will Preparation.

9 August 2010, by Rachel Rothwell.