Deathbed wills – Preparing a will when time is short.

Sometimes people can find themselves in a situation where they are suddenly taken very ill unexpectedly, and they may not have a Will in place to dispose of their assets after their death.

It is not too late to prepare a Will in this situation, provided the individual still has mental capacity.

Unfortunately, many Wills can be invalid as the Testator (the person making the Will) has not executed it properly, which may be due to failing health or the Testator does not know the legal requirements to execute a Will correctly. 

In a situation where death is imminent, Wills can be prepared in a hasty manner and mistakes can be made.  It is therefore very important that an experienced lawyer is instructed to assist in these situations to avoid any errors taking place and to help the Testator make their intentions clear.

‘Deathbed’ Wills can potentially be challenged by disgruntled beneficiaries that maybe didn’t get what they expected, or even nothing at all.  They might try to argue that the Testator lacked mental capacity or was under undue influence. 

This is another reason why it is important to have an experienced lawyer assist in the preparation of the Will, as they can document the situation and make it clear that the Testator was fully aware of what they were doing and there was no undue influence on them, which can be used in Court as evidenced if the Will was challenged later.

Should you require any further information regarding Wills then please do not hesitate to contact us on 01753 486777 or email our Private Client Solicitor.

What happens if YOU die without a will?

Losing a loved one is already a challenging experience, and dealing with the legalities that follow can add additional stress to an already difficult time.

One crucial aspect that individuals often overlook is the importance of having a will.

Unfortunately, many people pass away without having a will in place, leaving their estate subject to the rules of intestacy.

This is called dying intestate.

The deceased’s living relatives are placed into an order of priority. This dictates who inherits the money, property, and assets in the estate, and in what proportion.

For example, where there is a spouse or civil partner and no children, that spouse or civil partner will inherit everything.

If there is both a surviving spouse and children then the surviving spouse receives a statutory legacy of £270,000, anything else above this is split 50% to the spouse and 50% to the children and if more than one in equal shares. Any assets that are owned jointly pass automatically to the surviving joint owner.

In the event of there being no spouse or children or grandchildren, the estate passes to the deceased’s parents. Should there be no parents alive then the estate will pass to the siblings of the deceased or their nieces and nephews should their siblings have also sadly predeceased.

Other relatives may have a right to inherit if the person who died intestate had no surviving spouse or civil partner, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, parents, siblings or nieces or nephews. This would be grandparents, uncles and aunts or cousins in priority order.

In the event that someone dies without any living relatives left to inherit their estate, it goes to The Crown. That means the estate is then dealt with by The Treasury Solicitor.

There are many potential complications and unintended consequences which could arise due to not having a will in place.

This includes:

  • Delays and Expenses:

The absence of a will can result in delays as the court appoints an administrator to oversee the distribution process. This may lead to increased costs, including legal fees, and prolonged probate proceedings.

  • Unintended Beneficiaries:

The estate passing under the rules of intestacy may mean your estate being distributed to relatives you may not have intended to inherit. Close friends, charitable organizations, or individuals outside the family may miss out on receiving any part of your estate.

  •  Family Disputes:

Intestate succession can sometimes create disagreements among family members, especially when the distribution of assets does not align with their expectations. This can strain relationships and lead to costly legal battles.

Make a will today!

Writing a Will shows that you have considered what you want happening when the time comes. A Will empowers your family and loved ones to act swiftly with your own wishes. Without a Will, any wishes you have verbally expressed during your lifetime may not be upheld, as your estate must be distributed according to the rules of intestacy.

If you would like to make a Will, contact our Wills and Probate Solicitor Lara Thomas at or call 01753 486777.

How to protect your families future

Planning for the future is not just about your own well-being; it’s also about ensuring the financial security and protection of your loved ones.

As a loving and responsible family member, it’s natural to want to protect your loved ones and ensure their well-being in the future. This involves careful planning and proactive measures.

In this article, our Private Client team will explore essential steps and considerations to help you navigate the estate planning process and safeguard your family’s future.

  1. Create a detailed will

A Will is a legal document that sets out instructions for who will inherit your estate after you die.

It includes how you would like your possessions to be distributed; who should bring up your children and what sort of funeral you would like.

A Will is essential to secure your future and, if arranged properly, can help protect your family assets for your loved ones. It is something all of us should have in place.

What should I include in my will?

Funeral wishes – do you wish to be buried or cremated? Including this in your Will avoids your loved ones having to make the decision.

Executors – who do you trust to administer your estate? They can be family or friends (including those inheriting) or they can be professionals.

Guardians – if you have children under the age of 18 who will they live with

Personal belongings – do you have any personal items that you would like to leave to anyone specifically? The answer can be no.

Fixed Cash Gifts – would you like to leave someone a specific amount? This could be a small amount left to grandchildren.

2. Create a comprehensive Estate plan

Estate planning is essential to make sure your wealth is protected for you and your family. By structuring your assets in an efficient way, you can make sure everyone is provided for in the future.

Every family is different and every estate is unique. We understand this and create a bespoke plan that works for you and what you want to achieve.

3. Communicate your plan

You should discuss your financial and estate plans with your family members and share important information such as the location of legal documents and contact details of the professionals involved.

4. Create an LPA ( lasting power of attorney)

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a powerful legal document that can play a significant role in protecting your family’s future. It allows you to appoint trusted individuals (known as attorneys) to make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so yourself.

It empowers trusted individuals to make decisions on your behalf, ensures your wishes are respected, avoids court proceedings, minimizes family disputes, and provides peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

Protecting your family’s future requires careful consideration, planning and action. That’s why taking proactive steps today will provide invaluable peace of mind and ensure a secure and stable future for your loved ones.

For more information please contact us on 01753 486 777 or email our Private Client solicitor on

Planning your inheritance tax

What is inheritance tax (IHT)?

Inheritance tax is a 40% tax applied after a person dies to estates that are worth over £325,000.00 – or more if a home or the sale proceeds of a home are included.

However, you only get your full 325,000 if you haven’t made any gifts in the seven years before your death.

If you pass your estate to your spouse, it is exempt. You can inherit your predeceasing spouses’ 325.000 if not used and apply this so 650k can pass before it is chargeable.

You get an additional 175.000 if your estate passes to lineal descendants and includes a property.

What’s included in the estate?

The value of your estate for the purpose of inheritance tax includes:

  • your savings
  • possessions including property
  • pension funds (certain payments from payment funds may be subject to Inheritance Tax)
  • subject to certain exemptions, the value of any money or property you gave away during the seven years prior to death

The first £325,000 of your estate is tax-free so the 40% tax only applies to anything that goes over this value.

How to plan for inheritance tax?

Deciding how to manage your inheritance tax bill is completely up to you. Here are some ways you can plan for it:

  • Make charitable donations: Charitable donations made during your lifetime or through your will can reduce your taxable estate. Consider leaving a portion of your assets to a charitable organization you support.
  • Gift assets during your lifetime: One way to reduce the amount of inheritance tax your beneficiaries may have to pay is to give assets away during your lifetime. Under the current law, you can give up to a certain amount each year to an individual. By gifting assets while you’re still alive, you can reduce the size of your estate and potentially lower the tax bill for your heirs.
  • Creating a will – This can help reduce inheritance tax by allowing you to plan how your assets will be distributed after your death. Ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes: If you do not have a will, your estate will be distributed according to the laws of your state or country. This may not be in line with your wishes and may result in a higher inheritance tax bill.

Inheritance tax can be an emotional subject, but there is support available.

For more information, have a conversation with our expert solicitor Lara Thomas on or 01753 486777 to understand the steps to deal with it effectively.

Lasting power of Attorney- What you need to know

A power of attorney is a legal document that allows someone to make decisions for you, or act on your behalf, if you’re no longer able to or if you no longer want to make your own decisions.

Why should you have an LPA?

You can never know what the future holds and so the best way to ensure that your finances are in order is to set up an LPA with a trusted solicitor, family member, or friend appointed as your attorney. If you do not have an LPA in place should you lose mental capacity, your financial and welfare decision may be made by Social Services or your local authority without consulting your family or friends.

There are several reasons why you might need someone to make decisions for you or act on your behalf:

  • This could just be a temporary situation: for example, if you’re in hospital and need help with everyday tasks such as paying bills.
  • You may need to make longer-term plans if, for example, you have been diagnosed with dementia and you may lose the mental capacity to make your own decisions in the future.

An LPA for financial decisions can cover things such as:

  • buying and selling property
  • paying the mortgage
  • investing money
  • paying bills
  • arranging repairs to property.

You can restrict the types of decisions your attorney can make or let them make all decisions on your behalf.

A health LPA covers different aspects such as what decisions you would like your attorneys to make if you are not capable of making them yourself in relation to your health and welfare (for instance regarding end of life care).

You can appoint as many attorneys as you want.

There is no limit to the number of attorneys you can appoint. You can decide whether your attorneys should act “jointly”, meaning they decide everything together, or “jointly and severally” meaning they can act together or independently. Your attorneys must only make decisions that are in your best interests. They cannot make a decision that merely benefits them.

If you would like to find out more about setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney or want to instruct a solicitor to help you through the process, please contact Lara Thomas on  or call our office on 01753 486 777.

The importance of updating your will

A will isn’t something you can set up and forget. At Aston Bond we want to inform you on the importance of keeping it up to date…

In order to guarantee your estate is managed properly when your gone, your will needs some care and attention to remain current and updated.

Here are some of the most common reasons for updating your will:

  1. If you or anyone mentioned in you will changes their name, it is important to let your solicitor know. Likewise, if an executor or beneficiary dies or becomes unable to act, your will needs amending.
  2. If you marry or enter a civil partnership after your most recent will was drawn up, it will be automatically revoked, unless you included a clause referencing subsequent marriage.
  3. Your children may have become adults since your will was made. They no longer require guardians and could be suitable executors.
  4. The laws relating to inheritance tax change regularly and it is important that you continue to achieve your tax objectives and maximise exemptions and reliefs.
  5.  If you have bequeathed a specific property, which you subsequently sell or give away, you should remove it from your will.

To find out more about making or updating a will, please contact 01753 486777

New Appointment: SFE Regional Director

We are incredibly proud to confirm that our very own Head of Private Client, Jade Gani, is the newly appointed Regional Director (Berkshire) for Solicitors For the Elderly (“SFE”). 

SFE is a community of trusted advisers – professionally highly qualified and regulated and who also have additional skills to enable them to work with older and vulnerable clients. SFE speaks out in the press on behalf of their members about any proposed changes and developments which they believe will adversely affect older Clients. They also work hard behind the scenes with various governments, legal bodies, and other organisations to ensure their voice, and the voice of older people is heard.

SFE supports its members by providing them with expert training and best practice, keeping them up to date with any market developments, promoting them through their website and press coverage, helping them to help each other through their member’s advice forum as well as running national and regional events and keeping them up to date with the latest case law related to older clients.

Jade has shared her thoughts on her appointment:-

“I am very excited to join the formidable team at SFE and look forward to uniting, supporting, and developing our Berkshire members whilst also being a positive force for change for our most vulnerable Clients. It is a tremendous opportunity to better serve my colleagues in the profession as well as our wider community and it is a responsibility I take very seriously.

SFE is a wonderful, supportive organisation at the forefront of progressing the diverse needs of elderly or vulnerable clients. I am privileged and humbled to be asked to join their ranks.”    

Please join us in wishing Jade every success in this new role – we look forward to seeing all the incredible work that will undoubtedly follow this appointment.

What happens to Cryptoassets when you die?

Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies including Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ripple, and Ethereum and are controlled independently from a central bank. The currencies use a virtual wallet that contains digital ‘keys’ that are needed to access the currency. The actual currency lives in a digital ledger which is supported by a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is essentially a digital ledger which is extremely difficult to hack, change or cheat. This ensures it’s secure enough to store valuable Cryptoassets.

Whilst there isn’t a concrete legal stance on planning the inheritance of cryptocurrencies, we do know that cryptocurrency is treated in a similar way to other property assets which can be owned, gifted and inherited.

However, it’s not enough to simply include cryptocurrency in your Will. These are the key things to do to ensure the cryptocurrency can be accessed when the Will is being administered:

  1. Include information about your digital wallets in your Will. Never put any specific details about the cryptocurrency in the Will document itself. Once a Grant of Probate has been obtained the will becomes a matter of public record, leaving the information open to fraudsters.
  2. Create a Letter of Wishes with your Will which includes passwords and PINs.
  3. Include a step-by-step guide to explain how your Executors can access your cryptocurrency to distribute, sell or transferred to your beneficiaries.

These steps are extremely important: if a person dies without leaving information about the private keys to the digital cryptocurrency wallet, the cryptocurrency will be lost.

Blockchain is a decentralised and extremely secure process, and there is no way of restoring a private key. Even with a mention in a Will and a valid Death Certificate, accessing the cryptocurrency without the wallet information will be difficult because there’s no central organisation managing these digital wallets to help the Executors and would-be beneficiaries.

There are a number of different ways to store digital wallet information including:

  • A hot wallet – the private key is kept online. The risk here is that it may be targeted by fraudsters;
  • A cold wallet – where the key is written on paper, kept on a USB stick, or an offline computer. All of these can be stored in a safe for security;
  • A hosted wallet – where the private key is held by a third-party service; or
  • Banks – some banks allow cryptocurrencies to be bought and sold from a new bank account. They also store wallets and private keys of behalf of clients.

There is no central organisation in charge of these digital wallets, so although the person’s Executors might be able to prove who they and can provide copies of the Death Certificate and Will, it doesn’t help when there is no organisation or regulator to take this information to. The current total market value of cryptocurrencies is estimated at £1.75 trillion worldwide, so failure to plan for the succession of these types of assets appropriately could cost your Estate significantly.

Aston Bond Shortlisted for Several Award’s at the Probate Research Awards 2021

We are delighted to announce that Aston Bond have been shortlisted for several award categories at the Probate Research Awards 2021, namely the ‘Best Probate Law Firm London & the South East’, ‘Young Wills and Probate Professional’, ‘The Unsung Hero Award’ and the ‘Best Community Contribution’ award.

Best Probate Law Firm London & the South East

“Probate solicitors are experts in estate administration and have legal, accountancy and administrative skills as well as patience and understanding.  This award recognises not only the excellence of the services these solicitor firms deliver but also the best support they provide to probate researchers.”

The Wills & Probate team at Aston Bond are overwhelmed to have been shortlisted for this award. We pride ourselves on delivering a high standard of service to our Clients going above and beyond to assist, often free of charge, via the free initial consultations that the Wills & Probate team offer.

Young Wills & Probate Professional Award – Jade Gani

“This award recognises a solicitor who has excelled in their role or made a significant difference to their firm.”

Aston Bond is beyond proud that the head of our Wills & Probate department, Jade Gani, has been shortlisted for this award.  She has shown incredible determination continuously during a challenging year to ensure the success of the department and to motivate and encourage her team throughout.  Not only did Jade respond and adapt the department’s services effectively to accommodate our services for those that are most in need, but she has also engineered the ‘Free Wills for NHS staff’ offer which has been ongoing during the whole pandemic.

The Unsung Hero – Ilinca Mardarescu & Rachel Jones

“This award celebrates the people in a firm who may not usually be recognised but play a vital role to the success of the team.”

Aston Bond is delighted that not one, but two, of its super-star employees have been shortlisted for this award.

Ilinca Mardarescu, Director & Head of our Employment department, has been shortlisted for this award in recognition of her uplifting team spirit and the many duties that she undertakes beyond her job role, managing HR, organising events and many more admin roles that are fundamental in the running of a successful law firm.

Rachel Jones, Trainee Solicitor in the Private Client department, has also been shortlisted for this award in recognition of the unwavering support she has shown to the Private Client department and its clients during the pandemic, demonstrating skills and knowledge beyond her years, as well as helping with general firm admin tasks such as assisting with the running of the postal system and telephone lines during the pandemic.

Best Community Contribution

“This award is about recognising an individual or organisation that made a considerable and special contribution to the community.”

Aston Bond takes social responsibility seriously, so we are humbled to have been shortlisted for this award, in recognition of the strong community spirit that the firm values and its focus on giving back to the local community.  Examples of recent community events that Aston Bond has undertaken include the annual London Legal Walk (which took place in Windsor last year due to the pandemic), contributing to the ‘Learning to Work’ scheme to help students with their career paths, and donating some of our legal fees to local charities.  In addition to this, the Private Client department has been offering free Wills to NHS & Thames Hospice staff throughout the pandemic, and the Head of the department, Jade Gani, has launched the Wishing Will Foundation CIC with the directors of the firm, Duncan Thomson and Stephen Puri, whereby all legal fees are donated to associated local charities, like Thames Hospice.

Aston Bond is looking forward to the virtual awards ceremony being held on the 29th April 2021, and wishes all other shortlisted the very best of luck!

The benefits of using an SFE Accredited Lawyer to get your affairs in order

Solicitors for the Elderly (“SFE”) is a national organisation consisting of a select group of members who are qualified, regulated and insured Solicitors, Barristers or Chartered Legal Executives.  These members must specialise in law assisting older and vulnerable clients, and must have substantial experience of providing expert level advice to such clients.  The members receive expert training and are kept up to date by SFE with the latest case law for their older and more vulnerable clients.

With our own Head of Private Client Department, Jade Gani, recently qualifying as an SFE Full Accredited lawyer, we list 10 reasons as to why you should use an SFE accredited lawyer like Jade to get your affairs in order:-

SFE members:

  1. Know their stuff

As an SFE accredited lawyer, Jade is a qualified solicitor who has specialised in providing legal advice to older or vulnerable people and their family and carers, and therefore has an expansive knowledge of her legal area.

  1. Have years of experience

An SFE lawyer, Jade has been training and focusing on this area of law for many years, and therefore has built up substantial expertise and connections to ensure you receive an all-encompassing service.

  1. Are independently accredited

As well as successfully completing all areas to qualify as an accredited member of SFE, Jade has also completed additional training in older client law to qualify for the independently accredited Older Client Care in Practice Award.

  1. Follow a strict code of conduct

SFE lawyers like Jade are regulated by a strict code of conduct that centres on respect and dignity for their clients.  They understand the level of service required to meet the needs of older and more vulnerable clients, and how these may differ from others in society.

  1. Speak in a language you understand

SFE lawyers like Jade understand that there can be a lot of legal jargon in their profession and that this can be confusing to understand.  She therefore communicates in clear and straightforward language so that you can be confident that you understand any advice or documents you are provided with.

  1. Are part of a community of experts

SFE is an organisation that has created a community among the highest specialists in older client law.  With a community of over 1,500 members, no matter how complex or sensitive your case, you can be sure that you will receive the best possible legal advice on all areas.

  1. Safeguard your interests

An SFE lawyer, such as Jade, understands your interests and will focus on ensuring you receive advice that is of the highest quality and tailored to your specific needs whilst still being affordable.

  1. Understand the bigger picture

There are often wider and sensitive issues surrounding the health, care and family advice that you may be seeking, and an SFE lawyer like Jade will understand this and be able to apply the advice to the bigger picture and how this may affect your plans for later life.

  1. Offer the best possible care and support

SFE lawyers, such as Jade, have chosen to specialise in older client law in particular as they care about the more vulnerable members of our society, and helping provide them with support that is tailored to their individual needs and circumstances.

  1. Get you the best possible outcome

Ultimately, by choosing an SFE lawyer like Jade you can be confident that you will be guided and supported through a complex and sensitive area of law with the highest level of expertise, and you can be sure that the advice you receive will help protect both and also your loves ones both now and in your later life.

If you would like to speak with Jade about your Private Client Law needs then please do not hesitate to contact her on 01753486777