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- Introduction
- Accident & Personal Injury
- Divorce & Family Law
- Wills & Probate
- Why make a will?
- What happens if you do not make a will and die intestate?
- The taxman might get the lot!
- Challenges to will?
- Probate and administration of estates
- What is the cost?
- Employment
- Boundary & Other Disputes
- Case Studies


There are many reasons why you should make a will, some of which stem from the consequences of not making one!

• It shows family and friends that you care about them and have thought about their future after they have gone

• It provides certainty and peace of mind both for you and those you leave behind.

• Your money and property is much more likely to go to those whom you consider are deserving of it

• It limits the scope for potential unfortunate and unseemly wrangling between dependants as to whom should get what

• Your estate is less likely to be swallowed up in expensive litigation to determine who should get what.

• If you have no family or dependants and do not make a will (and die in testate) your whole estate could go to the Duchy of Lancaster (the tax man!)


We charge £45.00 plus VAT for a single will; £80.00 plus VAT where instructed by a couple.

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• Your estate will pass under the Intestacy Rules. This means that with a modest estate your spouse (if you have one) will inherit most if not all your estate. This may or may not accord with your wishes

• You will lose the opportunity of making tax efficient dispositions and your beneficiaries may have to pay have to pay entirely avoidable inheritance tax on the value of any of your estate over £255,00.00 (2003 values) unnecessarily

• In the absence of a will expressing your wishes those disappointed under the Intestacy Rules are more likely to make a challenge under the Inheritance (Provision For Dependence’s) Act 1975, as it may always be said that you would have left them something but have simply forgotten them.

• Those whom you had intended to benefit had you got round to making a will (if they are not members of your immediate family) may not benefit under the Intestacy Rules. The Intestacy Rules do not benefit inter alia friends (even life long friends) mistresses, lovers, cohabittees, charities or pets!

• Your estate is much more likely to be squabbled over or contested and hence swallowed up in legal costs

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Historically families of modest means did not pay inheritance tax as the value of the exempt estate (the nil rate band) was pitched at a level that took most estates out of the inheritance tax net. Everything over the nil rate band however was and is taxed at 40% of the market value of the asset. The current value of the nil rate band as at January 2004 is £255,000.00. however recent dramatic increases in property values means that more and more people are being drawn into the tax net as even a fairly modest house at today’s values can be worth more than £250,000.00 in many areas of the country. Unsurprisingly, the chancellor has failed to increase the value of the nil rate band in line with rising property values and many beneficiaries therefore may find that a significant chunk of their inheritance is grabbed by the tax man upon their parents demise, if no tax efficient dispositions are made during the testator's lifetime.

Very often in a typical family a simple change of the wills of wife and husband of the family can result in the tax exemption available being doubled to £510,000.00.

For details of this and other advice on ensuring your money goes where you want it to go contact one of our solicitors dealing with wills estates and probate on 0113 2438688 or click here to complete the e mail enquiry form.

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Whilst a carefully drafted memorandum to a will can seek to limit claims from disappointed beneficiaries, there are other cases where clearly inadequate provision has been made for dependants of the deceased and this appears unfair.

In these cases we can advise either the executors of the estate or disappointed potential beneficiaries as to the prospects of success for a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Aependants) Act 1975.

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You may if you instruct us to draw your will (or even if you have not) wish us to either act as your executors or assist you with the winding up of an estate.

The death of a close family member is a traumatic event and we have wide experience of handling such matters with sensitivity and tact.

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If we are acting as executors or advising as executors the costs of administering the estate are generally paid for out of the estate. Our charges (especially compared with certain banks who typically charge 3 or 4% of the value of the estate) are extremely competitive. We charge a fee based on the time it takes to administer and wind up the estate plus 1 ½ % of its value (all charges are plus VAT and any necessary disbursements). We can also act where no will has been executed.

We offer a free 30 minute initial consultation where advice is sought in respect of the winding up of an estate.

Example 1 Typical costs
On an intestate estate value of £60,000.00 our costs in taking all steps to wind up the estate and obtain a letter of administration and account to beneficiaries amounted to the sum of £1924.00 inclusive of vat.

Upon being instructed we will if required handle the funeral arrangements, establish the beneficial entitlements, contact potential beneficiaries, contact banks and other financial institutions, advise the executor or executrix applied for probate or letter of administration as appropriate, get in the estate assets, advise as to any inheritance tax liabilities, make arrangements to prepared Inland Revenue accounts, if necessary serve statutory notices, discharge estate liabilities and account to beneficiaries as appropriate.

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The information on this web site is intended to be a guide only to the services offered by Ashton Bell and is not intended to be acted or relied
upon without providing Ashton Bell an opportunity of obtaining full and proper instructions so as to be in a position to advise you properly.

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