Why should I make a Will?
No one likes either talking or thinking about death. However, it is an inevitability that we all face and I’m sure we would all like to make our passing easier for our surviving loved ones. To this end, everyone over the age of 18 years should make a Will and check periodically that it remains up to date and reflects their current situation. There are two main aspects of estate planning through a Will:
- Setting out your wishes regarding the distribution of your estate
- Tax planning to arrange your affairs in a way that avoids payment of unnecessary tax and helps ensure your beneficiaries retain your assets after your death
A well drafted Will ensures that the other areas of your finances and in particularly your inheritance tax planning will work effectively.
If you die without a Will, numerous delays and problems can arise regarding the distribution of your assets. Without a Will, the statutory Intestacy rules apply and determine who will inherit your wealth – which can seriously affect the position of a spouse or unmarried partner.
Can you help me make a Will?
Yes we can. As Inheritance tax advisers our standard business practice is to discuss your requirements for the Will in detail and then instruct the Will writers to draft it on that basis. The Will is then sent via secure mail to you for signing and witnessing.
What is an executor?
An executor is a person or persons that you name in your Will to deal with your affairs after your death. You should be able to trust your executors with your finances and we suggest that they are younger than you and not live too far away from you.
We recommend that you appoint executors for your Will who will also act as trustees to the Will. We advise against appointing solicitors or professionals as you may then be tying the hands of your beneficiaries – it will be impossible for them to remove a solicitor from the Will once you have died. Also, you will be binding the Will to the solicitors and potentially increasing the cost of probate.
What is probate?
Probate is the term used when talking about applying for the right to deal with a deceased person’s affairs. A grant of probate is almost always needed when the person who dies leaves one or more of the following:
- Stocks or shares
- Certain insurance policies
- Property or land
Probate won’t be granted until some or all of any inheritance tax that is due on the estate has been paid.
Instead of appointing a solicitor as an executor or trustee, a charging clause would allow your executors to employ a professional solicitor or company to undertake those parts of the probate process that they do not want to deal with, or have insufficient knowledge to deal with. A charging clause will allow the executors to take the charges of the solicitor or company from the estate rather than paying the fees themselves.
How can I use my Will to avoid my beneficiaries paying unnecessary tax?
Important inheritance tax planning opportunities arise through Wills. Currently, a ‘deed of variation’ can be used to alter the bequests made in a Will after death, providing the relevant beneficiaries agree to the changes. However, we believe it is unwise to rely on this tool as it is seen as an obvious ‘target’ for any future adverse changes to inheritance tax law. However, should you wish to help anyone who you know has been unfortunate enough to have their spouse die within the last two years, the tax planning referred to on this website, can still be enacted to save large amounts of tax. Please forward our details on to them and ask them to give us a call for some advice.
Any questions on writing a Will?
Please register for our FREE online How to avoid inheritance tax course