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28 September 2016

Trusts solicitors and estate administrators have concluded deals which will see Paisley Park, the private home and studio complex of the late music legend Prince, open to the public from October 6 this year.

It is believed that the Minneapolis estate's trusts solicitors have reached an agreement with Graceland Holdings, the company that operates Elvis Presley's Graceland estate, to run the 65,000 square foot complex.

27 September 2016

Drafting a Will often presents many complexities for the testator to consider. It's a necessary and worthwhile endeavour for most people because without a Will the estate will be subjected to the rules of intestacy and the deceased will not have any say in how their wealth and assets are distributed

One of the key decisions for the testator to make is who to assign as executor. The role of the executor carries a lot of responsibility and is not something to just be dished out at random.

20 July 2016

A recent decision made by a number of high street banks means that the amount that will be released from a deceased customer's account without a formal Grant of Representation has increased. However, this may not be the good news it seems at first sight.

The usual process when someone dies is that banks and building societies freeze their accounts until the person dealing with the estate - the Executor (where there is a Will) or the Administrator (where there is no Will) - has applied for the Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration. In the meantime, the only access allowed to accounts is to pay the funeral bill and any Inheritance Tax. This ensures that the right person deals with the estate, and the estate passes to the correct beneficiaries.

That said, the Small Estates Procedure has always allowed accounts holding less than a set amount of money to be closed without the need for a Grant. This amount is no more than £5,000 but separate to this, each bank and building society has set its own limit where they will close an account without the need for a Grant.

Whilst the limit set by banks etc. has historically been up to £15,000, many high street banks have now made a decision to raise their limit, with some increasing it as high as £50,000.

It seems the thinking behind the increase is to make life easier for those dealing with the estate. However, obtaining a Grant is a legal requirement which helps ensure that the right person deals with the estate, and the right people are paid the correct amount of money.

Is it right that banks are now able to bypass this procedure and release large sums of money?

The risk now is that potentially large sums could be released to those who are neither responsible for dealing with the deceased's estate, nor a beneficiary of the estate.


Contact Oratto on 0845 3883765 to speak with an adviser or use our contact form to arrange a call-back.

Click here to return to the Probate area.

20 July 2016

There have been numerous stories the news recently about the ownership of online and digital assets when someone dies. With more than 6.8 billion mobile devices and more than 2 billion social media accounts in the world, it's no surprise that this is becoming a bigger issue. The big question lies in the question of ownership, not of the device itself but the information stored on it.

Music purchased from an online store such as iTunes only provides the purchaser with a licence to use the information so it cannot be transferred to a beneficiary. Digital photos and videos will depend on whether they are original or downloaded from someone else's website or Facebook page. If they aren't original a person may not have any authority to pass this information to any beneficiary or purchaser of the device.

If the deceased did own the rights to any software or downloads on the device, those rights may not automatically be transferred with the ownership of the device itself. One example would be with intellectual property for a novel written by the deceased that is saved on a device. The deceased may have given the associated intellectual property rights to one person but left the device itself to someone else. The intellectual property would need to be copied and then deleted before the device can be handed over.

Additionally, if any intellectual property saved was created during the course of the deceased's employment, the employer may own the intellectual property rights. This needs to be transferred and deleted before the device is given to the beneficiary or sold.

Computing devices may also uncover if the deceased had online banking accounts, PayPal or gambling accounts not currently part of the estate. This information about other funds or debts needs to be taken into account when dealing with the estate.

The deceased's personal representative will need to review the information on the deceased's computing device and take necessary action to ensure all relevant laws are complied with. If the devices are protected using passwords, then they may need to enlist a suitable expert to assist with gaining access.

There is also the issue of the deceased's online passwords. The way to make sure all online accounts, whether social media, email or bank accounts, can be accessed after death is to make sure that passwords are included (and kept up to date) as part of the documentation when planning your estate.

Oratto can assist with all areas of estate planning and estate administration so please contact us if you have any questions about anything raised in this article.

Contact Oratto on 0845 3883765 to speak with an adviser or use our contact form to arrange a call-back.

Click here to return to the Probate area.

20 July 2016

An interesting Court case has hit the headlines recently continuing the trend for high profile contested Wills and probate cases causing a media stir.

A widow (Mrs Vindis) of a very wealthy English businessman (Mr Vindis) is challenging his Will, from which she is likely to receive £36,000 (the Will did in fact leave £1m to the widow, but much of that value was tied up in properties that were owned jointly by her, so the next gain will be approximately £36,000).

Mr Vindis' wealth came from the Vindis Group of car dealerships. He died aged 58 with an estate estimated to be worth approximately £12m. Two months before his death, Mrs Vindis issued divorce papers. As the couple were still married at the date of his death, the divorce papers and any financial order that the Courts may have made in the divorce proceedings, have no effect. This means that Mr Vindis' Will takes priority.

The couple had been together for almost 40 years and although the Family Court position is that on divorce the starting point is equality, it is by no means certain that Mrs Vindis will receive anywhere near the £6m she is claiming. Mr Vindis had left the majority of his estate to his two children, aged 26 and 28. The estate is also facing a claim against it from Mr Vindis' sisters.

Mrs Vindis' claim is based on the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975. Often called the Inheritance Act, this is not new law by any stretch of the imagination but allows certain categories of people (spouses and children being two of these) to claim "reasonable financial provision" from a deceased's estate.

The Court proceedings have been adjourned and so it will be a case of watch this space for legal commentators. If the matter does reach full trial and does not settle out of Court, it will be one of the largest estates a Court has had to decide on using the Inheritance Act and we will bring you the result and explain the consequences.

How Oratto can help you

The size of the estate in this matter is extraordinary but whatever the value, more and more Wills are being disputed and estates challenged. If you are a disappointed beneficiary or an executor facing a claim from a disappointed beneficiary, please get in touch with an Oratto member lawyer, Wills and probate specialist today.

Contact Oratto on 0845 3883765 to speak with an adviser or use our contact form to arrange a call-back.

Click here to return to the Probate area.

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