A Will states who inherits your estate. Without one, you die intestate and your estate is distributed according to the rules set by law.
These rules do not cater for your specific wishes and can mean family members may benefit when you would prefer them not to do so. In some circumstances your assets may go to distant relatives you have never met or even pass to the Crown.
Although everyone knows they should have a Will, 60% of the UK adult population do not have one. Of the 40% that do have a Will, 1-in-4 do not reflect their wishes or are simply not valid.
Why Single Wills ?
There are two types of Wills: a Single and Mirror Will.
A Single Will is for singletons and allows them to stipulate who inherits.
If you die without a Will then your estate passes according to intestacy and your people close to you could miss out, with a large proportion of your estate potentially going to HMRC.
The rules dictate how your estate is distributed to your closest relatives.
Whatever your personal situation, you need to make sure that your assets are distributed to the right people.
Couple Mirror Wills
Mirror Wills are for couples. They are two separate documents reflecting the wishes of each spouse/partner.
They make use of unused Nil Rate Bands mitigating the effects of tax.
A Mirror Will can help reduce the chance of losing assets and home to pay tax bills.
Usually a Mirror Will states that surviving partner inherits everything should one die.
It heps protect your partner’s financial future, as they would not inherit your estate if you are unmarried.
If you are married/in a civil partnership and die intestate in England and Wales, your spouse inherits the first £250,000 and then half of the remaining estate.
The rest is passed to children.
If you are unmarried, your partner has no right to your estate, and it will pass to your blood relatives.
If you are remarried, your estate transfers to your new spouse, away from blood relatives of previous marriages.
Any past Will is revoked on remarriage without taking action.
Prior to making a Will you need to consider the value of your assets and any shared assets including house, businesses, building society/bank accounts and investments.
Executors are responsible for distributing your estate or administering your Trusts . You should therfore make sure the persons you choose are appropriate.
Make sure to also name substitutes, should your Executors die before you.
If you want your Trusts to remain private after your death, you need to create them separately from your Will. Your Will is published on grant of probate.
Use A Professional
Use someone that is an expert in the field of Estate Planning.
Make sure not to go to a part-time practitioner but someone that has specific knowledge of how you should distribute your assets.
You should look for an accredited firm that has a strong background in providing Wills to its customers.
They should have an in-depth knowledge on inheritance tax and how trusts can assist in fulfilling your needs.
Stay away from DIY kits, they could easily result in errors and you may end up without the results you wanted, needing to seek advice anyway.
If you die without a Will and have children under the age of 18 they are likely to go into the care system.
They will remain into care until a suitable guardian is selected by the Courts, which in itself can be expensive.
A Will is the only way to appoint your own Guardians. It will ensure your children are placed in the hands of someone you trust immediately.
Remember to think about location and the financials obligations placed on a guardian when making your decision on who to choose.
Executors are not always fully aware of what their duties can entail. They include:
Arranging a valuation of the deceased’s estate, completing the probate and inheritance tax forms, calculating and paying the inheritance tax to HMRC if any.
The Executors must keep records of what they have done to prove they have acted according to the deceased’s wishes, as there can be legal challenges from the beneficiaries or the family.
Emotional turmoil and great distress could create issues, for which the executors could be legally responsible for.
It is therefore of paramount importance that the Executors seek the right advice and right support before or during the administration of the estate.
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