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Wills & probate solicitors

Expert advice on Wills, trusts, probate and estate administration

For over 100 years our Wills and Probate solicitors have been helping people manage their affairs and loved ones’ estates, to give them financial security and enhanced quality of life in the present and for the future.

Our specialist Wills solicitors include chartered tax advisers and qualified financial planners experienced in managing our clients’ interests at home and overseas. So our team has all the expertise needed to structure your personal and business assets effectively and ensure your wealth is protected.

How our Wills and probate solicitors can help you

Your solicitor will take the time to understand your situation, what matters to you and any potential challenges, working closely with you and your own professional advisers to achieve the best outcome.

Here are some of the many ways our specialist solicitors can help:

Business succession planning

We regularly advise the owners of family businesses, including those with interests overseas. To ensure your business is handed over smoothly to the next generation or wound down in a way that provides the greatest benefit and least trauma to your families and employees, our commercially astute team can help.

Our specialist inheritance tax solicitors can advise you on the reliefs from inheritance tax available for businesses and business assets.

We can also help you to formulate a framework for how your family business will be run and how issues such as death, divorce and incapacity will be handled in the context of your business in the UK and across borders.

The breadth of services we provide means we can also advise you on associated issues such as the creation of a trust or the sale of a family business.

Wills and lasting power of attorney FAQs

Do I need a Will?

Around 60% of adults die without leaving a valid Will and take their chances that the intestacy rules will match what they would like to happen to their estate. However, this means that they won’t get a say in who administers their estate and who it goes to. If you are co-habiting, have a second family, business assets or a taxable estate, a Will is essential planning. If you have a very limited estate and are married with no children outside of that marriage, then it’s possible the intestacy rules could match what you would like to happen. Either way you should take advice so that your decision not to have Will is an informed one.

How do I choose an executor?

Anyone aged over 18 can act as an executor, but when you make a Will, it’s important that you choose your executors carefully. It’s advisable to have at least two executors, in case one of them dies. It’s also advisable to choose someone who’ll have the right skills to be able to manage finances and paperwork when dealing with your estate. It can be an onerous and time-consuming role and carries personal liability if things go wrong. For this reason, many people often appoint a professional executor such as a solicitor. Clarke Willmott is able to act as professional executors through Clarke Willmott Trust Corporation Limited.

Can I protect my home from a Local Authority care fees assessment?

Any action you take to avoid a care fees assessment could be viewed by the local authority as a deliberate deprivation of assets. This may result in a refusal to fund any care. Therefore, you should take specialist advice when considering using a Will or trust to protect your assets from third party claims on your estate. Our specialist Wills and trusts advisers will help you choose the best Will for you.

I have dual nationality – where should I write my Will?

This depends on which countries you hold nationality, your assets, your residence and domicile. It may be that you have one international Will, two Wills in the same country but dealing with assets in different countries, or separate Wills in different countries. Advice should be taken from one of our experts.

How do I contest a Will?

If you have grounds to challenge a Will (eg the Will was not valid or you were left out of a Will) there are several options available to you. A caveat can be issued to prevent the Grant of Probate being issued until the Will dispute has been resolved. If the Grant of Probate has already been issued, Inheritance Act claims can be brought against the estate within six months.

I have concerns about the validity of a Will of a deceased relative that was drawn up in another country? Will I be able to contest it?

If the deceased was domiciled abroad, if there is property abroad or if the Will was prepared under foreign law your ability to make a claim or contest the Will depends on local law and local advice will be needed. English law may also be relevant depending on the circumstances. Our trusts and estate dispute resolution solicitors will be able to advise you.

I’d like to make plans for someone else to manage my affairs in case I get dementia or lose mental capacity in the future. What options are available to me?

lasting power of attorney is an effective way of deciding how you would like your affairs to be managed if you can no longer manage them yourself. You can outline how decisions should be made and then appoint a person you trust (called an attorney) to make them on your behalf. There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney – a health and welfare lasting power of attorney and a property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney.

What can an attorney do?

An attorney’s powers are set out in the lasting power of attorney. An attorney must always act in the best interests of the person that granted them the power. For instance, they are not allowed to give the person’s money away, spend it on themselves or change the Will without court approval. However, the safeguards are limited so it’s very important that you only appoint an attorney you are confident will act in your best interests.

Inheritance tax and probate – FAQs

What’s the best way to reduce inheritance tax?

There are many ways to reduce inheritance tax, including making gifts to friends, family or charities and using trusts. It is worth consulting a specialist to ensure that you understand the pros and cons of each option. Clarke Willmott’s team of Wills, probate and trust solicitors and tax experts can provide comprehensive advice about reducing your inheritance bill.

If you do not have family that you particularly wish to benefit, spending your money improving or enjoying your life is an excellent way of reducing the eventual inheritance tax bill provided that you make sure you leave enough in hand to meet your needs.

Can I save inheritance tax on my home and stay living there?

The simple answer is ‘Yes’ but it is very complicated and you will need to pay a full market rent for living in your home under the terms of a lease. In addition, if you give away the property to your child and they become divorced or have other financial claims on their estate, your home will be at risk. Some capital gains tax will also be payable when the house is sold. Using the family home in your estate planning is usually the last resort however there are other effective planning solutions we can offer using your Will and trusts.

Can you reduce inheritance tax whilst dealing with a deceased person’s estate?

It is possible to reduce inheritance tax after a person has died, through a deed of variation or by placing assets into a trust. However, there are complex rules about how trusts can be used in this way so it’s advisable to speak to a specialist probate and trusts solicitor. If you inherit assets from someone based abroad further planning and long-term tax savings are possible but specialist international estate planning advice should be sought. Our international specialist solicitors can help with this.

Do I need to get a Grant of Probate?

If you are an executor of a Will it is likely that you will need a Grant of Probate to deal with the administration of the estate. However, if the estate only has joint assets or bank accounts with less than £5,000 in them you may be able to deal with the estate without a grant. You are still responsible for dealing with any necessary inheritance tax reporting, even if a grant isn’t required.

Do I need a solicitor to obtain a Grant of Probate?

It’s possible to apply for probate without a solicitor. However, in many situations it will be advisable to use a specialist probate solicitor. For example, if no Will was left by the deceased or the Will has been contested, if tax is payable or if charities are beneficiaries. A solicitor can also help with the administration of complex estates – for example estates which have business, agricultural or foreign assets. Probate solicitors take the burden of some or all of the work from the executors.

What can go wrong when dealing with an estate?

Being a personal representative (executor or administrator) can be an onerous role. It is time consuming and has to be done properly to avoid HMRC penalties and claims by beneficiaries. Family pressures and divided loyalties can also cause problems. Read our factsheet about the common pitfalls for personal representatives to learn more.

I live in the UK but have been left a property in France. Do I need to obtain a French Grant of Probate and will I need to pay inheritance tax on a foreign property?

You will need to consult with the French Notaire as the tax in France will depend on your relationship to the deceased and the value of property. You personally won’t need to pay UK inheritance tax when you receive it, but the estate might also suffer UK inheritance tax depending on the domicile of the deceased. There will be some set off of the taxes in France and the UK. You may be able to keep the asset outside of your own estate so the inheritance tax isn’t payable on your death. Advice should be taken from one of our experts.

Contact a specialist Wills and probate solicitor today

For legal advice on any aspect of Wills, trusts, probate or estate administration, call our team of specialist Wills and probate solicitors on 0800 652 8025 or get in touch online. We have teams based in BristolCardiffManchesterSouthamptonTauntonLondon and Birmingham.


I am writing to thank you on behalf of the Trustees for your friendly, but firm, and always efficient handling of the Trust administration. That Trust matters were in safe hands was one less worry for me during my recent treatment.


A highly competent team with excellent specialist knowledge.

The Legal 500

Your key contacts

Carol Cummins


Carol enjoys long term relationships with her clients and likes to get to know the families well so that she can help them at each key step in life with a focus on protecting the family wealth from erosion by tax and outside claims so it remains in the family for future generations.
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Tom Chiffers


Tom is a Partner in Clarke Willmott’s Taunton Private Capital team, specialising in inheritance tax and succession planning for private individuals, farmers and other business owners.
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Paul Davies


Paul is a Partner and head of the private capital team in Clarke Willmott’s Manchester office. Paul specialises in estate planning, Wills, & trusts for clients with complex family and finance arrangements.
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Philip Whitcomb


Philip is a private client partner who acts for a large number of farmers, landowners and high-net worth individuals. He has particular expertise in advising on succession planning and the structuring of farm businesses.
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