Gordon Bowley practised as a family solicitor for over thirty years, with particular experience in the area of wills and probate. This book is a result of his decision to write a step-by-step guide for his own family, giving them the procedures to follow and the information they will require to wind up his affairs themselves. He is based in Upminster.
For over thirty years I practised as a family solicitor and was much engaged in the fields of probate and wills. It became obvious to me that the majority of the cases I handled in these fields could have been dealt with by any reasonably intelligent layperson who had time available and a little professional guidance. In fact, in many solicitors’ offices, executives and their assistants do much of the work involved in dealing with the estates of those who die. Of course there are other cases which require a great deal of legal knowledge and training, but these are the exceptional ones.
Sometime after retirement, I decided to write out for my wife Margaret and my son John, a step-by-step guide to the procedures to follow and the information that would be required to wind up my affairs when I die, without the necessity for professional help. Those writings became this work and I dedicate it to them as a token of my appreciation of the kindness and devotion that they have shown to me. I hope that both they and you will find it of use and a great moneysaver!
This book is not intended to deal with every eventuality, but I believe it will cover what needs to be known in the majority of ‘ordinary’ cases. It does not deal with the calculation of inheritance tax, but if you decide to deal with the estate yourself rather than employ a solicitor, the Personal Applications Section of the Probate Registry will arrange for the tax to be worked out for you. No attempt has been made to cover estates involving life interests in great detail, but throughout I have indicated where I consider professional assistance should be invoked. When deciding whether to deal with an estate yourself rather than hand it over to a solicitor, bear in mind that if you get stuck, you can always seek legal advice on a specific point or instruct a solicitor to handle a particular stage – for example, you might wish to write all the letters and only ask the solicitor to prepare and lodge the probate forms. Such a course would reduce the cost considerably and I have included suitable specimen letters with relevant addresses in the appendices.
In spite of its limitations, I honestly think that this book includes all that it is necessary to know to enable the intelligent novice, with the necessary time available, to wind up most estates in England or Wales.
Go to it and good luck!
- This book only deals with the law applicable to England and Wales. Scottish law is different. Moreover, law and practice do change frequently and while every effort has been made to ensure that the contents of this short work are accurate and up to date, no responsibility is accepted for any loss resulting from acting, or from failure to act, as a result of it and the book is bought and sold on that basis.
- Throughout the book, for simplicity’s sake and not for any reasons of gender prejudice, I have assumed that the usual case of the male of the species predeceasing the female will occur and ‘he’ should be read as ‘she’ or ‘they’ where the context and circumstances so require.
- The Department for Work and Pensions and the administration of Social Security Benefits were reorganised in April 2002.
Benefits for people of pensionable age will be dealt with in the future by the new Pensions Service and benefits for those of working age will be dealt with by the Employment Service operating from the Job Centre.
Claims for benefit from the Social Fund will be dealt with by the Employment Service offices irrespective of the age of the claimant.
Because these changes are being rolled out gradually over different parts of the country it is not possible to generalise and state which arrangements will be in force in any particular part of the country at any particular time. Accordingly when reading this book it might be necessary to construe references to the Benefits Agency as references to the Pensions Service or to the Employment Service.
- Crown copyright is acknowledged in respect of all statutory and governmental material quoted or referred to in the text.