Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitors

Making a Will is something that many of us don’t want to think about.

However, without a valid Will in place, the law will decide who receives your estate and in what proportions, regardless of your wishes. At Henriques Griffiths, we understand how difficult this subject can be to discuss. That’s why we aim to make the process as simple and smooth as possible, protecting your interests through a clear and valid Will.

Our dedicated team are passionate about helping our clients through difficult times, which is why we offer assistance to Executors responsible for administering the estate of a loved one. When you instruct one of our Wills and Probate solicitors, we will provide as much assistance as you require, ensuring no stone is left unturned.

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How our Wills solicitors in Bristol can help you

We support families all over England and Wales with a wide range of issues related to wills and probate, including:

Wills

We offer expert advice to those who wish to ensure their wealth is passed on in accordance with their wishes.  Our team of Wills solicitors in Bristol assist clients with planning and drafting their Will, ensuring all aspects relating to how they wish to pass on their property are covered.  Without a valid Will, you risk your property being distributed according to the Rules of Intestacy, which may be completely at odds with your wishes.  Our solicitors offer practical legal advice, ensuring your final wishes are accurately recorded, your assets safeguarded, and your interests protected.

Trusts

A trust is an arrangement whereby an individual (a trustee) holds an asset (property, shares, cash), for the benefit of someone else (the beneficiary).  A trust can be made to take effect during your lifetime via the creation of a trust deed, or, by incorporating a trust into your Will, it can be set up to come into effect following your death.  Regardless of which type of trust you wish to create, we can assist you in its creation.  Trust law can be complex; however, our team has an in-depth understanding of how trusts are made and administered and can advise you and the trustees throughout the lifetime of the trust.

Estate and inheritance tax planning

As property prices rise, more people are leaving behind estates which are subject to inheritance tax.  Henriques Griffiths’ solicitors can assist you with tax planning, ensuring you understand and take advantage of the nil-rate bands and preserve as much of your wealth as possible so it can be passed down to the next generation.  At present, everyone is entitled to pass on £325,000 tax-free.  If your Will leaves your entire estate to your spouse or civil partner, they can combine their tax-free allowance with yours, meaning they can pass on up to £650,000 intact.  The government has now introduced a main residence nil-rate band, which allows for a £125,000 (from April 2018) tax-free allowance if your main residence is passed down to your direct descendants.  Our solicitors can help you navigate these complex tax-free allowances and ensure your assets and best interests are protected for future generations.

Court of Protection and elderly client issues

If a person loses the mental capacity to make decisions regarding their finances, health or welfare, relatives or friends can apply to the Court of Protection for Deputyship.  As a Deputy, a person will have the authority to make ongoing decisions on behalf of someone who lacks mental capacity.  Applications for Deputyship can be made as emergency applications in certain circumstances, for example when someone's life or welfare is at risk, and a decision has to be made without delay.  We can assist you with making an application for Deputyship to the Court of Protection.  Our team deals with elderly client matters in a sensitive, respectful manner, always involving the person whom any deputyship order will affect as much as possible.  We also provide in-depth advice to deputies regarding their duties and responsibilities.

Mental incapacity and Powers of Attorney

It can be difficult to imagine not having full mental capacity to make decisions for yourself.  However, whether it be due to old age, illness or a tragic accident, many people lose the ability to run their day to day lives and have to rely on others to manage their affairs.  A Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to choose a trusted person to help you manage your finances and/or health and welfare within limits set out by you at a time when you had full mental capacity.  Our team can assist with drawing up a Lasting Power of Attorney and provide advice to the attorneys you choose on their duties and responsibilities.  We are dedicated to our clients’ safety and will ensure that no pressure is put on you when drafting a Lasting Power of Attorney, and any decisions you make are made freely and in your best interests.

Administration of estate

When someone you love dies, it is a distressing time.  If you are named the executor of the deceased’s Will, you have additional responsibilities on top of dealing with your grief.  Our sensitive, caring solicitors have years of experience in administering estates and applying for Probate. We will manage the process for you in a straight-forward, practical manner so you can concentrate on your family. Obtaining Probate can take time, but our probate solicitors in Bristol will guide and support you throughout the process, giving you full confidence you are executing your duties correctly.

Disputed Wills

As the value of estates rise, so does the chances of contentious matters emerging from a deceased’s Will. At Henriques Griffiths, we understand what an enormous emotional decision it is to decide to challenge the last wishes of a loved one. We can advise and represent you throughout the process, challenging the validity of a Will if you believe it was not executed correctly or created with undue influence.  In addition, we advise beneficiaries of an estate who wish to challenge the way the administration is being handled, for example, if the administrator is making decisions which exceed his or her powers.  Our team is highly experienced in alternative dispute resolution; we look to resolve disputes through methods such as negotiation and mediation rather than formal litigation, thereby reducing cost and stress. However, if formal court proceedings prove inevitable, we work alongside some of the countries top barristers to ensure our clients get the results they want.

Wills, Trusts and Probate FAQs

How do I create a Will?

The process involved with writing a Will is fairly straightforward – however, mistakes in drafting the document or in signing it could result in your Will being declared invalid. Should this occur, it will have the same effect as leaving no Will in place at all: that is to say, your estate will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy and may pass to people you would not have chosen yourself.

In order to create a valid Will, your first step should be to get in touch with an expert Wills and Probate solicitor. When you instruct a member of the team at Henriques Griffiths, we’ll take the time to understand your unique requirements, individual circumstances and objectives regarding your estate. From here, we will determine the best way of protecting your interests and safeguarding your assets after you’re gone. Once you have reached a decision on what to include in your Will, we will take care in drafting it for you.

After your Will has been signed, we will make a copy to give to you and we will store the original safely in our offices. In order for the Will to be valid, you must sign it in the presence of two independent witnesses. Once you have signed the Will the witnesses will also sign the document, making your Will valid.

Should you wish to change the contents of your Will at any point, you can do so by getting in touch with our team. The process will be the same, and the Will must be signed as above in order to for it to be valid.

What is probate?

The term ‘probate’ is commonly used to describe the estate administration process that takes place following a person’s death. This comes from the “Grant of Probate”, a legal document that gives the Executor of the Will the authority to manage the affairs of the deceased.  Once the Grant is to hand the Executor can collect in the assets falling into the estate; settle any liabilities and, ultimately, distribute the estate to those beneficiaries named in the Will.

What are the responsibilities of the Executor?

Where the deceased has left a Will behind, it’s likely that they will have appointed a friend or relative to be the Executor. The role of the Executor is to ensure the estate of the deceased is distributed in accordance with the Will. Often, an Executor will instruct a legal professional to help with the estate administration, as going it alone can be a time-consuming and stressful task, especially during bereavement.

Why choose Henriques Griffiths’ Wills solicitors to help you?

Every day, our expert team of Wills and Probate solicitors offer specialist advice to clients looking to plan ahead and protect their interests. From our extensive experience in working with people from all walks of life, we have developed a tailored approach in our service. That means that we will always place great importance in gaining an understanding of your individual situation, allowing us to determine the best solution to meet your requirements.

At Henriques Griffiths, we believe in keeping things simple. When it comes to matters such as estate planning we will always explain your options in plain English, allowing you to make an informed decision when it matters the most. Whether you need assistance in drafting your Will or you’re seeking a helping hand through the process of estate administration, you can rely on our dedicated team to guide you through.

Henriques Griffiths is Lexcel accredited by the Law Society for our practice management and client care. We are also regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), providing assurance that we continually meet the highest legal and professional standards.

Contact our Wills and Probate Solicitors in Bristol today

For expert legal advice on Wills and estate planning or practical support through an estate administration, speak to one of our Wills and Probate solicitors now by contacting your local Henriques Griffiths office in Bristol or Winterbourne, or you can use our simple enquiry form to ask a question or request a call back.