We provide a range of services before and after a loss.
Is a Will necessary?
The simple answer is “Yes”. Every adult should make a Will and review it regularly, particularly if their circumstances change, such as they get married, have children or get divorced. (In fact, it is important to note that marriage invalidates any Will made before marriage).
There are a number of reasons:-
- The main reason is so that you can decide who should benefit after your death. If you fail to make a will you are said to have died intestate. Your estate will then follow the intestacy rules so that the people to whom you would like to leave your estate may receive little, or nothing at all, and others may benefit.
- The second reason is to avoid inheritance tax. This may be payable by your estate on assets over £325,000 (2020/21 tax year). You need to take into account your house, savings, life insurance policies and all other belongings. There are some simple things that can be done within your Will to counter or reduce any inheritance tax burden.
- If your children are still under the age of 18 when you die, then you may wish to appoint guardians who will be responsible for their upbringing and education. You will also be able to select someone you trust to look after your belongings until your children become old enough to take responsibility for themselves.
Dying without leaving a Will
If you die without leaving a valid Will then the law decides who gets what? Here is a guide to what would happen. This is a simple guide only. There may be exceptions to the general rule which are not set out below.
Married person with children
For deaths that took place after 6th February 2020, your spouse/civil partner will get everything up to £270,000 as well as your personal possessions. Anything remaining is divided into two:-
a) Half to the children at 18 or earlier marriage.
b) Half in trust during your spouse/civil partner’s lifetime – he/she will get the income. On your spouse/civil partner’s death this half will go to your children.
If your child dies before you leaving your grandchildren, then they will take your child’s share between them.
Married person, no children
If there are parents, brothers or sisters of the whole blood, nephew or nieces:-
Your spouse/civil partner will get everything up to £450,000 as well as your personal possessions. Anything remaining is divided into two:-
a) Half of this goes to your spouse/civil partner
b) Half goes to your parents (if no parent is living then it goes to the brothers/sisters or their children).
Married person, no parents, brothers or sisters of whole blood, nephew or nieces
Your spouse/civil partner will take the whole estate.
Unmarried person with children
Estate goes to children at 18 or earlier marriage. If your child dies before you leaving your grandchildren, then they will take your child’s share between them.
Unmarried person with no children
Estate goes to your parents. If you do not have parents, then there is a predetermined order as to who receives the estate starting with your sibling, grandparents and uncles/aunts. If you have no relatives the Crown takes your money.
Living Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney
A Living Will allows you to make decisions about your health care in advance in case you are ever are incapacitated and unable to do so.
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a document by which one person (the donor) gives another person (the attorney) the power to act on his/her behalf and in his/her name. It is restricted to financial and health matters and may be completely general, entitling the attorney to do almost everything the donor could do himself or it may be limited to certain matters or issues.
The purpose of a Lasting Power of Attorney is not only to supply the attorney with power to act for the donor, but also to define the extent of his authority, which he/she can produce as evidence to someone with whom he/she will deal.
The next step
There is a great deal of information that needs to be collated in order to satisfy the authorities at the Inland Revenue and Probate Registry.
Let us know if you are an executor, administrator or beneficiary of an estate and are not happy with the way in which it is being administered. We may be able to help you.