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February 18, 2017

Don’t DIY Your Will


Creating a will is an essential way to ensure that your savings and assets will be distributed according to your wishes, yet many people choose not to prepare one, choosing to create their own, because of the cost. A basic will could cost you around £100 – £300, but the bill could rise to £600 or more when you use a solicitor for inheritance tax advice etc.


That’s why, for many people, a DIY will is a far cheaper alternative, typically costing around £20 from online retailers and high street shops such as WHSmith.

However, while these store-bought wills may look attractive in price, it can be a risky approach. For example, if any errors are made or the strict witnessing rules are not followed correctly, the document will be invalid.

An invalid document could have serious implications on you and your family in the future. You risk leaving your family with a financial catastrophe and what you’ve left behind could be eaten away by legal bills or taxes.

If a will is not drafted correctly, it can be challenged and leave your family ‘intestate’ i.e. without a will at all. If this happens then the rules of intestacy come into force, meaning the guidelines dictate how your estate is divided and so distant relatives could benefit rather than those who are closest to you.

When issues like this arise, your family can make an inheritance claim to try and change the interpretation or execution of the will, or if someone believes they have not been provided for in the will.

Figures from the Co-operative Legal Services (CLS) have suggested that poorly drafted or ineffectively written wills are the reason for prolonged probate ordeals for 38,000 families per year.

Along with these figures, the CLS announced that additional fees to cover for a poorly written will could absorb 10% of the value of a person’s estate. Therefore, with an average estate in the UK standing at £160,000 can you afford to waste £16,000-worth of probate fees?

At Bespoke Support Network we aim to provide you with advice and expertise concerning wills and probate, as well as other financial advice you or your business may need. For more information, please contact us today.

February 16, 2017

What is Probate?

Before next of kin or executors can start administrating a deceased person’s will, they will need to apply for probate, but what is probate?

‘Probate’ is the legal and financial process of dealing with the estate of someone who has passed away. It is used to describe both the Grant of Probate and the process involved in obtaining it, which includes:

  • Making an inheritance tax return to HMRC
  • Paying the tax due
  • Finalising income tax affairs and pensions
  • Collecting in the estate from banks, building societies and selling assets
  • Paying money due to beneficiaries, making any gifts of items to beneficiaries and preparing accounts for the estate.

In fact, there are actually two types of grant: probate and letters of administration. Probate is granted when the deceased left with a valid will, while letters of administration are granted where the deceased did not leave a will.

Who is Responsible?


It is the responsibility of the executors named in their will to apply for Probate. In most cases, the executors will be family or friends of the departed but some people will appoint professional executors (a solicitor or will writer).

If there are no executors named or no will present at the time of probate, a blood relative or someone who would benefit from the will must become the administrator of the estate. The administrator performs the same tasks that an executor would but they will have no will to act upon.

The Process

Obtaining a grant of probate may not be necessary for estates of less than £15,000, or if the assets were held jointly and are passing to a surviving spouse or civil partner.

However, if you do need to carry out probate, the first step will be to identify all the deceased’s assets (property, investments and possessions) and all their liabilities (debts, loans and utility bills), in order to determine the value of their estate.

After paying the inheritance tax to HMRC and being issued the Grant of Representation, you will need to prepare the estate accounts, documenting all payments into and out of the estate as well as the balance left for distribution to beneficiaries. Providing there are no challenges to the estate or the will itself, then the final phase will be to gather the executors together and distribute assets in accordance to the will.

How long does Probate take? 

Depending on how complex the deceased’s estate is, it will take longer to process Probate of someone with multiple properties, shares and accounts than if they had owned a single bank account and very few assets.

It will also depend on how much time the administrators can dedicate to processing probate. If they’re able to take leave from work to deal with probate, they will be able to take care of it quicker.

On average, the process of probate normally takes between six to nine months and up to 80 working hours to complete.

Bespoke Support Network aims to provide advice to businesses and individuals alike, everything from wills and probate to financial planning. For more information and help with your business needs, call us today.


February 14, 2017

What Are Letters of Wishes?

What is a letter of wishes?

A letter of wishes is a document that accompanies your will when you pass. While the letter of wishes is not a legally binding document, it can guide your executors and trustees to ensure that all your personal wishes are carried out.


Why should you make one?

A letter of wishes is particularly helpful in several situations, including the opportunity to explain why certain family members have not been included as beneficiaries. The main topics a letter of wishes covers is:

  • Who to Notify of Your Death
    The letter of wishes can help your executors or trustees as well as relatives address who to tell about your passing, and possibly who not to tell.
  • Your Funeral Wishes
    In your letter you may include as much or as little detail about your funeral proceedings as you want. From a simple request for a burial or cremation, to the specific arrangements for the service taking place. Often, people write down the specific hymns and music they want played, along with flowers to be used.
  • Personal Items
    If you have particular items that you want to pass onto special relatives i.e. precious jewellery or valuable keepsakes, then your letter of wishes can detail how your personal items will divided out to your specific family members.
  • Guardians

Particularly important to a letter of wishes is passing on the responsibility for looking after your children to their chosen guardians. In the event that you pass before your children are adults themselves, then your letter of wishes can provide guidance to your appointed guardians to help them care for your children.

How to write a letter of wishes.

There is not a standard answer for how the letter should be set out but you must try not to alter the terms of your will throughout the letter of wishes. Your will makes the legal decisions and your letter will give guidance to those left to deal with your final wishes.

Bespoke Support Network aims to provide advice to businesses and individuals alike, everything from wills and probate to financial planning. For more information and help with your business needs, call us today.


February 10, 2017

5 Common Wills and Probate Mistakes

Here are the most common mistakes people make on their Wills and Probate.

‘Common Lwriting-1149962_960_720aw Marriage’ Applies

Often, cohabiting couples will assume that their partner will inherit all their assets in the event of their death, if they don’t have a will. However, under the rules of Intestacy in England and Wales, if you and your partner are not married, the other partner will receive nothing from your estate. While they may be able to later claim against your estate or receive your share of a jointly owned property, there is no guarantee.

A Will is ‘Watertight’
It is often believed that a will cannot be varied or challenged after their death. However, there are a number of ways in which your will and estate can be challenged, and there is no guarantee that the wishes contained in a will are always carried out. However, there are ways to minimize the risks of a claim being made, for example if you were to ensure the will makes a reasonable provision for financial dependents.

Wills Don’t Have To Be Updated

A will usually reflects your circumstances when it is made, meaning if you are single and have no children when it’s made it is highly unlikely to make any provision for your spouse or children if you later marry and start a family. Therefore, as your personal circumstances change, you should always review your will to see whether or not it still represents your circumstances and wishes.

Bargains Are Always The Right Choice

Will writing is an unregulated industry in England and Wales, leaving individuals with many options as to how they choose to write it. The traditional option is to find a solicitor or professional will writer to draft a will for you. However, DIY will kits are just as popular for people wanting to write their own will. These can lead to the will being marked as invalid though so it’s important to take this into consideration first.

Time Limits Don’t Apply

Once an estate has been administered, it will become more difficult to recover the assets. If you have a claim against an estate or concerns about a will, it is important to raise these issues and obtain specialist legal advice as soon as possible, rather than waiting for several years. In some cases, the time limit involved can be as little as six months for the date of the grant of probate.

Bespoke Support Network aims to provide advice to businesses and individuals alike, everything from wills and probate to financial planning. For more information and help with your business needs, call us today.

February 8, 2017

What is Inheritance Tax?

Inheritance Tax, otherwise known as ‘the voluntary tax’, is a tax on the estate of someone who’s died.

Typically there is no Inheritance Tax to pay if;

  • The value of the estate is below £325,000 threshold
  • You leave everything to your spouse or civil partner, charity or club.

In 2015, the Inheritance Tax was changed to allow people to pass on more to their children or grandchildren without being taxed. However, a new limit is set to be introduced in April which will allow individuals to pass on estates valued up to £500,000 tax-free.

Both married couples and civil partners are currently treated as individuals, each allowed to pass on their full allowance. The allowance is also transferable even if one partner dies before April 2017.


How does inheritance tax work?

Currently, each individual is tax at a rate of 40pc on all his or her assets above the threshold. This threshold is £325,000, but from April a new, higher threshold including a “family home allowance”, will begin to be phased in.

How will it change?

The new 2015 Budget introduced a new provision that allowed individuals and married couples the opportunity to pass on their main home with a smaller tax liability.

In 2017-18, the tax liability will be worth £100,000 but will gradually get bigger over the coming years.

However, there is a catch. This total must include a “family home”, which must be the main property. Buy-to-let and second properties will add to the total size of the estate as normal.

This means that married couples will be able to pass on estates worth up to £1m to their direct descendants, including a family home.

How will this affect my tax bill?

This change will bring down costs for all estate sizes including family homes. If you own a small estate you will still be exempt from inheritance tax, but larger estates which included family homes will have up to £140,000 extra tax-free allowance, for married couples.

The additional allowance will gradually be withdrawn for properties worth more than £2m.

Bespoke Support Network aims to provide advice to businesses and individuals alike, everything from financial planning to wills and probate. For more information and help with your business needs, call us today.

February 4, 2017

What is Proprietary Estoppel?

Proprietary Estoppel may sound like another complicated legal term, but it is really quite simple. By legal definition, ‘Proprietary Estoppel’ is a claim that might arise if property is promised to you on the death of the property owner, but in their will it is not going to be yours.

ProprietaryEstoppel-428335_960_720Often connected to English Land Law, an example of ‘Proprietary Estoppel’ is to imagine you have been working on a piece of land for many years for low or no payment on the promise that one day you will own it. However, when the landowner dies, the land you have been working on has not been left to you in their will. If the worker claims ‘Proprietary Estoppel’ then they may override what was written in the will.

To prove proprietary estoppel, you will have to establish three things; an assurance, a reliance and a change of position or detriment.

Assurance is that the owner of the property once said that the land or property would be yours once they had passed. This can be written or spoken confirmation that the property was once promised to you.

The reliance is that you work on the property with the belief that it will be yours in the future.

A change of position or detriment is that you put yourself in a worse position on the assurance the property would be yours. This could be the owner having children or promising it to a partner as well as your own personal circumstances.

If you can prove these things then you could override what has been written in the will of the property owner.

If you believe you have a case of proprietary estoppel, contact our expert will advisors here at BSN.

Bespoke Support Network are here to help you, leave us to deal with the hard work while you reap the enormous benefits. We have a variety of experts in a range of industries; from administration to legal matters.

February 2, 2017

Getting a Mortgage and Being Self-Employed

Recent research into self-employed individuals has found that 2 in 5 worry about their employment status impacting upon their chances of securing a mortgage.

Following changes to the housing market, mortgage lenders must now under regulation ensure all borrowers of any salary or income types can afford their mortgage. This requires all mortgage applicants to provide sold evidence of income or expenditure, including the self-employed.

While applying for a self-employed mortgage may require some additional pieces of evidence compared to those in salaried occupations, not all is lost for the self-employed.

The best chances of getting a mortgage as a self-employed are:

  • Two years’ accountsTax Return
  • Track record of regular work
  • Healthy deposit
  • Good credit history

When lenders determine how much to lend you, they will base this off your calculations on your average profit in the past few years and prefer borrowers to employ an accountant to prepare self-employed workers’ accounts. Also, make sure your accounts are up-to-date and in order before you apply for a mortgage.

If you don’t have two years’ accounts though, don’t panic. Some mortgage lenders will still consider your application. If you can prove you have regular work, left employment to work as a contractor or have evidence of future work, you are more likely to be considered.

It will massively iselfemployedmortgage-1523383_960_720ncrease your chances of being accepted for a mortgage if you have a decent deposit or a chunk of equity in an existing property when applying.

Finally, a clean credit record will boost your chances of getting a mortgage. Your lender won’t just credit check you, but they will credit check your business as well. Make sure your credit report is in the best possible shape, with unpaid or late debts cleared and the report checked for any mistakes that might damage your chances of getting a mortgage.

Here at Bespoke Support Network, we provide you or your business with advice from everything from wills to mortgages. If you need any advice regarding your next mortgage, call one of our expert team.

January 29, 2017

Bespoke Support Network’s Guide to Public Liability Insurance

Public liability insurance is something that every business should have in place now for when inevitably accidents happen, and let’s face it, it’s part of running your own business! Having public liability insurance in place will keep your mind at rest, and ensure that you are covered as and when accidents do occur. You can either buy a stand-alone policy for your public liability insurance, or simply purchase it as part of your current business insurance.


What is public liability Insurance?

This insurance protects you and your business when clients or members of the public suffer injury or damage to a belonging that has been caused by your business. The right insurance policy will pay for legal expenses and compensations claims. If your business regularly interacts with customers of members of the public, it can be essential to protect your company.

One of the most common accidents is people slipping or tripping while visiting your business, this can often result in a public liability insurance claim.

Is public liability insurance a legal requirement?

Public liability insurance is currently not compulsory under the UK law; however, some clients may check you are covered when looking at building a contract with you.

What does public liability insurance cover?

By taking out a public liability insurance policy you will be covered for:

  • Compensation payments for injuries to members of the public
  • Compensation payments for damage to their property or possessions
  • Legal expenses connected with representing claim

Do I need public liability Insurance?

If your business is in contact with either the public or your clients on a day-to-day basis, it’s important to have public liability insurance. However, if you’re still unsure and need some advice Bespoke Support Network are here to help. Our business and team of professionals are here to advice and support businesses financially as well as offering other services to maintain your company. Contact us today for more information.

January 19, 2017

The importance of writing a will

shutterstock_449191870Writing a will Is never going to be at the top of your fun things to do on a rainy day, however they are of such high importance when it comes down to things, that it’s best to think about it now rather than later. Your will is a legal document that will tell everyone what happens to your estate and your assets after you pass. If you don’t have a will, it is then decided by the law how your estate is passed on, which might not be in line with your wishes.

The reasons to writing your own will – There are many reasons that are applicable to writing your will. For a start, it is a lot easier on your family and friends. As you can imagine when a close member or friend passes, it isn’t an easy time for anyone, so it’s important to keep their stress levels to a minimum. Without a will at hand, it can be even more stressful and time consuming.

Thinking about the things you want from writing a will and how you might want your assets divided will highlight the fact that without a will, you have no control over this. Without a will the decisions will be left in the hands of the law. Think about how you would feel if your spouse or partner wasn’t to be included in some of the most important decisions. Its puts your mind at rest knowing that those decisions are in your hands.

Another key thing to remember is that a will can help reduce the amount of inheritance tax payable on the value of your assets, that you leave behind.

It’s also important to think of any children or family you may be leaving that financially depend on you, and how it could affect them if you didn’t write a will.

As you can see, there are several reasons to why writing a will is so Important. It may not be a nice thing to think about, but you do need to contemplate it and the effect it could have on your loved ones if you didn’t. If your reading this, unsure on where to start with the whole process, here at BSN we are here to help. We have team of professionals that are only a phone call away, so get in touch today.

January 19, 2017

Theresa May’s Brexit speech – What we’ve learnt

shutterstock_28512553Last week, Teresa May’s much awaited and anticipated Brexit speech flooded the newspaper headlines. There was such speculation into what was going to happen and what information was going to be revealed about the next steps of Brexit. There was always going to be mixed opinions and views, but what was agreed on throughout was that not much was given away, and not many questions were answered. So, what did we learn? what information have we gained from Theresa may’s speech? And what could this mean for your start up business financially?

The main reveal, was that just as a lot of people had considered; we would be leaving the European single market. What’s that you ask? The European single market is basically a single market that seeks to guarantee, free movement of people, goods, capital and services. The ‘Four freedom’s’. The suggestion that we were going to leave this single market was leaked thoroughly meaning, instead of the news hurting the pound, sterling rose higher…and breathe.

Another decision revealed was that she is also planning to leave the European Customs Area. This arrangement entitles a common tariff on any goods coming from outside that area. She made it clear in her speech that these terms will be renegotiated. As well as this we learnt that parliament will make the final decisions on the Brexit deal. What wasn’t confirmed was the outcome of the decision if parliament disagrees on the deal.

Although we are now on track for a “hard Brexit” we are still very unsure on how we will be trading with Europe, and how we are going to get to the final agreement. She made it clear that she hopes for the free movement of goods and service between Britain and the EU’s member states. How this will work has been left very brief, as there are many concerns to this being possible. After all, if you’re no longer a member of the European single market, how do you still expect to reap all the benefits.

So, what does this all mean for your business? Are you concerned for your start up? Could all this effect you and your business financially? We at BSN are here to help. We have a team of qualified financial experts that can answer all your questions. Contact us today.