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Wollaston Associates

Experts in Estate Planning:
Wills, Trusts, Probate, Lasting Power of Attorney.

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Martin Wollaston, expert in Wills, Trusts, Probate and Lasting Power of Attorney.

Estate Planning: frequently asked questions

Estate Planning expert Martin Wollaston talking about Wills and Trusts with a female client.

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Answers to questions about Wills, Trusts, Probate and Lasting Power of Attorney

Both Wills and Trusts are used to say who will receive a person’s assets, but they do it in different ways, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
A Will is a legal document that comes into effect from the point at which a person passes away. It cannot be implemented while someone is alive.

A Trust can be created either in a Will or during a lifetime. If it is in a Will, it will only become operative at the time the administration of the estate is complete. If it is in a lifetime document, it can take effect immediately. Control of your assets and money is handed to a Trustee, who manages the assets on behalf of your beneficiary/ies.


A Will is about the distribution of assets after your death and when creating a Will, there are multiple things to consider:
1 – What assets are there to give?
Common assets of a person’s estate include property, investments, jewellery, cars etc. It is important in the early stages of preparing a Will to clearly state which assets are intended to be passed on.

2 – Who will be the beneficiaries?
Identifying the beneficiaries is the most important part of the Will and clearly stating who they are is vital to the execution of a Will.

3 – Will there be any special circumstances?
It is not uncommon for an asset to be held for a loved one in situ for a time before being passed to the beneficiary. This can often be due to their age or mental capacity. The process is completed via a third party who will take care of the asset before passing it on to the intended beneficiary.

4 – Who is the executor?
The appointment of the right executor can be the difference between wishes being followed to the letter or not at all. The executor is the person responsible for distributing the assets. An executor can be a loved one, a friend or somebody trusted who has a more thorough understanding of the law and the procedures to follow.


A Trust is an effective Estate Planning method that can be put in place.

Trusts are often associated with the extremely wealthy, but this is a misconception as a Trust can be beneficial for anybody, no matter their net worth. The purpose of a Trust is to leave assets behind for a loved one in a controlled environment.

A Trust allows a party to set aside their assets and funds for loved ones / friends / charities, while being freely able to state how, where, when, and why they wish for them to be distributed in that way.

During the process, one or more persons will be appointed by the party providing the funds (the grantor) to the position of trustee.

A trustee is responsible for the assets held within the Trust and to make sure that the wishes of the grantor are followed.

There are multiple different types of Trust – depending on the situation and stipulations the grantor wishes. The most common are:

Asset protection
Property protection

One of the biggest reasons for confusion between Wills and Trusts is that there is some overlap between the two in key areas. However, both are there to protect and benefit loved ones; it is just the method and circumstances of protection and the total package that differs.

Among the key differences between the two are that Wills don’t go into effect until you pass away, whereas a Trust can go into effect immediately upon it being signed. Additionally, in Wills, unlike Trusts, arrangements can be made for children and pets, with the opportunity to also specify final arrangement wishes.

Conversely, Trusts are more complicated agreements, meaning that more detail can be added into any wishes, with more stipulations and conditions than in a basic Will.

Which is better: a Will or a Trust?

Both Wills and Trusts have their own distinct advantages, but are both different in so many ways that one can never be definitively seen as better than the other – they are both essential forms of estate planning, and both offer protection and peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

The pros of a Will include:
It provides children and pets to be included;
It avoids assets being distributed according to the laws of intestacy; and
It avoids large inheritance tax implications.
The pros of a Trust are:
Its terms are more private;
Heirs are able to avoid probate; and
It provides greater control over what happens to your assets than a Will.

Ultimately, as a client of a professional advisor, you have the opportunity to have a full discussion about your future planning and wishes. Only through this conversation can you identify what a Will can help fulfil and if a Trust is also needed.


It is a common view that being unable to manage your affairs is due to disease such as dementia, which is commonly associated with the elderly.

But what happens if there is an accident or a person is rendered unconscious through an illness?

Who then legally makes the big decisions about health and welfare? 

Although this can happen at any age, people prefer not to consider it a possibility.


Using an LPA to plan for the unknown is as important for young families as it is for those in retirement, particularly if there are children to consider.

It’s worth remembering that in planning for our own future we are also supporting our children’s futures too.

It is not necessary to have significant savings or to own property to consider an LPA.

Everyday decisions – such as paying bills, rent, or the mortgage – will need to be made by someone with authority to make those payments on behalf of a family member if they are unable to do so themselves.

An attorney may also need to claim benefits and allowances on behalf of the donor.

And if an inheritance is received, then a Property and Financial Affairs LPA will help ensure the inherited funds are managed appropriately and in the best interests of the donor.


It is a common misconception that jointly held assets or accounts are not affected by mental incapacity.

The reality is that it is normal for high street banks (and online banks) to freeze a joint account if they discover a person has lost mental capacity, thereby making it impossible for a spouse or partner to withdraw funds until it is proved that they have the authority to act on that persons behalf.

The consequences of not having someone who can act immediately can be disastrous, as a spouse may be unable to meet financial obligations and needs during this period or pay for any care expenses.

Bear in mind that a Will does not cover someone losing their mental capacity, because a Will only comes into force upon death.

By contracts, an LPA is to be used in life, as and when required according to circumstances.


An LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before it can be used. This means there is a public record of the appointments made in an LPA.

The OPG is responsible for maintaining this record and investigating reports of abuse by attorneys.

If the OPG suspect financial abuse, they will take steps to apply to the Court of Protection to cancel or revoke the LPA.


There are two kinds of LPA: a Property & Financial Affairs LPA and a Health and Welfare LPA.

Both deal with very different matters and having just one will not cover all the different decisions that may need to be made.

For example, an attorney for a Health & Welfare LPA may make a decisions around care, but if there is a cost attached, then an attorney for Property and Financial Affairs needs to be involved.

The two can often overlap. So it’s important to assess if it would be beneficial to have both LPAs in place.


A Will deals with someone’s affairs only after their death, not before.

So an executor for a Will does not have any power to handle matters during a person’s lifetime.

An attorney, however, is legally empowered to assist someone during their lifetime, as and when help is needed.

Although an attorney can also be an executor, they must be appointed to the role using an LPA.


It’s a mistake to put off creating an LPA until it’s needed.

A person will be unable to have an LPA prepared if they lack the capacity to understand the nature of the document or give clear instructions.

If someone’s ability to provide clear instructions is in doubt, then a doctor’s report may be required – something which can lead to both delay and uncertainty.

Creating an LPA and getting it registered for the donor while they are still able to participate in the process is a better option than leaving it until they are potentially unable to do so.

Creating an LPA will give them – and their loved ones – a solid, secure basis for planning the future.

No matter how complex a scenario may be, our team will help ensure that your needs – or those of someone close to you – are supported both effectively and efficiently.

If you’d like to arrange a meeting, please get in touch.