“What kind of service do we offer?”

We offer a fast, efficient and friendly service, and we are committed to excellence. You’ll be impressed by the expertise and professionalism of our team.

We are hugely experienced in helping with the difficulties that accompany life events, such as a death in the family or coping with the ageing process.

Our approach to clients is to listen to what you have to say and to give clear guidance. We’ll give you full information about how we operate and advise at all points on the next steps in any matter we are dealing with on your behalf.

“At Gowen and Stevens we will listen to your needs and keep you informed of progress at all stages”

We believe in providing affordable services and many of our services are offered at a fixed fee.

Our range of services included:

  • Making a will
  • Setting up trusts
  • Lasting powers of attorney
  • Court of protection applications
  • Probate and the administration of estate
  • Handing disputes about wills and estates

***Please note that Wills previously held at our now closed office at Lloyds Bank Chambers have been moved to our new office at 15 Ewell Road, Cheam, Surrey, SM3 8DD. Telephone No: 020 8661 8611.***

“Don’t leave it too long”

Specialist advice taken now can help to reduce or remove problems later on. If you think you may need our help, do not hesitate to call us.

Making a will

“Why make a will?”

Making a will is one of the most important things that you can do to safeguard your assets and to make sure that those you leave behind benefit from your estate.

If you do not make a will then you do not have control over any of these things.

There are complicated rules governing how a deceased person’s property and money passes where there is no will and, contrary to popular belief, someone’s property does not always pass to their spouse. Cohabiting couples may lose out entirely.

Making a will also enables you to appoint guardians for your children, if they are under the age of 18.

We can also advise you of the most effective ways of minimising the inheritance tax burden. In some cases we can ensure there will be no tax to pay at all.

“A will is an inexpensive way to offer benefit to those you leave after your death”

“What service do we provide?”

Our wills team can advise you on how your will can be made to satisfy your specific requirements and prepare a will tailored to your instructions. We will witness the will for you, and once signed we can store the original will for you, free of charge, and supply a copy for you to keep.

Unless your will is very complicated we’ll charge fixed fees.

And don’t forget that it is important to review your will at regular points. Changes in family circumstances or the value of property and savings may mean that the provisions of your will need reconsidering.

Setting up trusts

“What is a trust?”

In simple terms a trust is an arrangement where assets are held by one person (called the trustee) for the benefit of someone else. Typically, this happens where money is left in a will to a child. A trust would be set up and the trustee would look after that money until the child becomes an adult.

“Use of trusts”

There are many other occasions though where a trust might be beneficial, for example:

  • Reducing inheritance tax payable on your death - you can put cash, shares or property into trust and by appointing yourself as the trustee you can continue to decide who gets what and when. Provided you live at least 7 years after the trust is formed then the value of the assets put into the trust falls out of your estate
  • Protect money you give away – if you are thinking of giving someone a gift to reduce your estate, but are worried about how that person will use the money, then you can create a trust and the trust can make a loan to that person instead. The loan doesn’t have to carry interest and what is more once you have set up the trust it counts as a gift from you. If you become concerned about how the money is being used the trust can call in the loan, with no impact on your estate planning. This arrangement is very useful when helping adult children onto the property ladder, particularly when a child is buying a property with someone else
  • Hold over capital gains tax – if you have an asset which has gone up in value (a capital gain), you can pass this gain without payment of the capital gains tax to your children or others by setting up a trust
  • Helping disabled, vulnerable or divorcing children – there are many instances where for one reason or another you don’t want to give money or property directly to your children. Using a trust stops them having absolute money, so it won’t be taken into account for means tested benefits or in divorce settlements

“Taking advice”

Our trusts team advise on whether a trust would be of benefit to you, either when we are preparing wills or at any other time. We can set up trusts, or if one has already been made, we are happy to help with the administration.

Trusts can be tricky, especially how they affect the tax you pay, so talk to us now and take our advice.

Lasting powers of attorney

“Why make a lasting power of attorney?”

Most of us want to protect our dignity and independence in later years and to make it as easy as possible for those around us. At Gowen & Stevens we encourage our clients to plan for future adverse events.

Preparing lasting powers of attorneys to put in place formal legal directions about how your financial affairs and decisions about your medical and social care are controlled, should you lose capacity, is an important part of that plan. The people you choose to make decisions are known as attorneys. You can have one attorney or more. You can also appoint replacement attorneys, if your original attorney is no longer able or willing to act.

“Don’t wait until a calamity strikes, speak to us now to protect you and your family’s best interests.”

“What can attorneys do for you?”

For Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Powers of Attorney, you choose people you trust to make decisions on your behalf about money and financial matters, including:

  • Opening, closing and using your bank or building society accounts
  • Claiming, receiving and using your benefits, pensions and allowances
  • Paying household and other bills
  • Buying and selling your house and other property

For Health and Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney, you choose people you trust to make decisions on your behalf about things such as:

  • Giving or refusing consent to particular types of health care, including medical treatment
  • You staying in your own home and getting help and support from social services
  • Whether you move into residential care and finding a good care home
  • Day-to-day matters such as your diet, dress or daily routine

You must also choose whether your attorneys or your doctors will make decisions if you ever need treatment to stay alive and you aren't capable of deciding.

“How does our service work?”

We meet you to talk about your family, social network and your financial situation, and work out who is best placed to be your attorneys. You can chose the same people for both types of lasting power or they can be different. As well as choosing people you can trust it is important that your attorneys have the confidence and skills to deal with matters on your behalf.

We draft all the powers on your behalf and make sure you understand how the lasting powers will work if you lose capacity. We liaise with your attorneys to obtain their signatures on the lasting powers documents and arrange registration of the powers ready for use.

We also certify for the court that you understand the lasting powers of attorney and are making them of your own free will, an important safeguard in the process.

Court of protection applications

These are used when someone cannot deal with their finances.

It is a sad fact that as people are living longer more families are facing the situation of dealing with a relative who can no longer deal with their own affairs.

“Deputyship applications”

If this is a situation affecting you we will look at the financial circumstances of the person who can no longer make their own decisions and advise you on the appropriate course of action. In some cases you may be advised to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed deputy, in which case we will be pleased to take forward the application on your behalf.

“Joint ownership of property”

We can also assist where a joint owner of a property has lost capacity by making an application to the Court of Protection for the appointment of a replacement property trustee.

“Estate planning and reducing inheritance tax”

It is little known that you can apply to the Court of Protection to help someone to plan their estate and save inheritance tax even if they are not able to make decisions about these things themselves. These applications are usually to make a will (known as a Statutory Will) of lifetime gifts for the person who can no longer make decisions for themselves.

Probate & administration

Gowen & Steven’s probate services are long established and aim to take away the stress of dealing with someone’s affairs after they have died. There’s no need to wait until after the funeral to make the initial contact, and there may be advice or reassurance we can give you early on. We can help you by:

  • Advising and explaining the terms of the will
  • If there is no will we can advise on who will be entitled to inherit the estate
  • Identifying and valuing assets in the estate
  • Preparing a full account of the estate for HM Revenue and Customs
  • Obtaining a grant of representation from the Probate Registry – this is the official authorisation for executors or administrators to deal with the estate
  • Paying any taxes due
  • Preparing accounts to show what the estate consists of and how it is to be divided up; and
  • Distribution of property and money to the beneficiaries

Our service is flexible. Having discussed the options with you, we can do as much or as little of the task of sorting out the deceased’s property and affairs as you wish.

Our priority is always to complete matters without delay so that property and money benefits those the deceased person intended as soon as possible.

Whether there is a will or not or tax to be paid or reclaimed, we will logically and efficiently administer the estate on your behalf and account for the proceeds.

We’ll provide you with a timescale for our work and make clear the key milestones in obtaining probate so that you know what to expect and when.

You will be assigned to a solicitor who will lead your case and be a single point of contact for you should any queries arise.

Our flexible Probate Service keeps you in control of decisions.

We will give you an estimate of our fees and other expenses before we start work, and if any extra costs may have to be incurred we will always ask you first.