Not all propery passes according to your Will! In this article we explain which property passes under your Will, and which passes regardless of what your Will says.
The importance of making the right Will:
Making a Will is such a simple and straightforward process that you would imagine everyone over the age of 18 would do it. Unfortunately, around two thirds of people in the UK don’t have a Will and many will leave this quick, simple process too late.
Those who do make a Will often make the mistake of choosing the age-old favourite, the ‘Mirror Will’. Sadly, this common type of Will leaves their full assets exposed to care fees, creditors and predatory third parties; and makes it very easy for their hard-earned cash to pass sideways out of the family. With a Mirror Will, the money that you worked so hard for your whole life can very easily end up in the pockets of the taxman, a Local Authority, a child’s ex-partner, or someone else’s children or grandchildren. Yet, despite these risks, many high street solicitors – and now a whole range of online Will writing companies -continue to offer Mirror Wills as standard. For as little as £90, you can have an “expert checked” Will that puts your entire estate at risk – in as little as 15 minutes!
Quite often when we tell clients there is a simple solution to all of this, they assume we are talking about dubious and horrendously overpriced ‘Asset Protection Trusts’. In fact, we would never recommend such an arrangement – instead, there are simple, legitimate and highly affordable ways to structure your assets so that your share of the family wealth is preserved on your death.
“A Mirror Will leaves your full assets exposed to care fees, creditors and predatory third parties; and makes it very easy for your hard-earned cash to pass sideways out of the family. With a Mirror Will, the money that you worked so hard for your whole life can very easily end up in the pockets of the taxman, a Local Authority, a child’s ex-partner, or someone else’s children or grandchildren.”
This can result in children or grandchildren losing some or all of their inheritance. Other potential problems include:
- Large and unnecessary inheritance tax bills
- Inheritance lost or dwindled away by beneficiaries
- Step children losing out entirely, depending on who dies first
All of the above risks can be mitigated or avoided altogether with a properly drafted Will.
- A free information pack about Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney.
- A free one-hour appointment to discuss your Will, without obligation.
- Individual bespoke advice based on your personal circumstances and goals.
- Smart ways to protect what you’ve worked so hard for, to ensure it goes to your children or grandchildren.
- Highly competitive fees, and home visits at no extra charge.*
- A regulated lawyer-managed process.
If, after you’ve met our advisor, you’re not convinced that our advice is right for you, simply walk away. There’s no obligation whatsoever to proceed.
0800 788 0500 9am – 5pm Mon – Fri
PAUL KING TEP EXPLAINS:
Q: Why do I need a Will?
“A Will is a sort of message to your loved ones after you die. It’s an opportunity to show them that you care by thinking of them and providing for them. Failure to make a Will sends the opposite message!
Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be extremely stressful. What were their wishes regarding a funeral? What did they want to happen to their personal possessions? How did they want their assets to be split? If all these things are unknown, the stress is increased at an already very difficult time. A Will provides clear answers for those left behind and a clear message that you cared enough to put your affairs in order.
Making a Will can also help prevent discord in the family. It is a clear statement of your wishes so that nobody is in any doubt as to where you want your assets to go. In addition, if you decide to leave assets in an unexpected way (for example, a smaller share to some children than others) we can help reduce the risk of a claim being made through various means.
Without a Will, your estate will pass according to the rules of ‘intestacy’. These depend on your circumstances. If you have a spouse or civil partner and children, the first £270,000 of your estate will pass to your spouse or civil partner with the remainder split 50/50 between your spouse and your children. Even if this seems acceptable now, it may not be sufficient at the time of your death and does not protect your share if your partner needs care in the future, falls into financial difficulty or remarries. A Will can, amongst other things:
- Specify what happens to your assets and ensure sentimental items are left with those who would may be comforted by them.
- Deal with digital assets, which are not automatically treated as personal property.
- Reduce or eliminate the amount of inheritance tax due on your estate.
- Through protective trusts, maximise how much your partner, children and grandchildren ultimately inherit.
- Safeguard a beneficiary’s assets against future problems that they may experience.
- Appoint guardians for your minor children rather than leave who will care for them to chance.
- Set out your funeral wishes. Even if you really have no preference, this can remove a lot of stress for loved ones who otherwise have to second-guess what you might have wanted on your death.
- Leave pets much like you leave personal property, together with a gift of money contingent on the beneficiary accepting responsibility for the pet.
- Provide for a cohabitee, who would otherwise not currently benefit under the rules of intestacy even if they have children with you.
- Include a formula that specifies a certain proportion of your estate goes to charity, so that your estate benefits from a reduced rate of inheritance tax.
- Select Executors and Trustees of your choice who will manage your estate when you die – otherwise this selection fixed by the law.
We offer a free information pack and a free one-hour session to discuss making a Will, without obligation. Complete the form above to get your pack or call my team on 0800 788 0500 Mon – Fri 9am – 5pm to book your appointment.”
Paul King is a full member of STEP, the global professional association for practitioners who specialise in family inheritance and succession planning. Full STEP members like Paul are internationally recognised as experts in their field, with proven qualifications and experience.
ASK A SOLICITOR: LEE SOUTHERN LL.B (HONS):
Q: Who should I choose to write my Will?
“Anyone can offer Will writing services – it is not a ‘reserved’ activity. Consequently there are an abundance of ‘Will Writing companies’ and our own research has shown that they rarely use regulated lawyers. Many say they are ‘regulated’ by the Institute of Professional Will Writers (IPW) or the Society of Will Writers but unlike the SRA or CILEX, these bodies are ‘self-regulatory’ and membership alone does not make the Will writer accountable to the Legal Ombudsman. If things go wrong, clients do not have the same level of recourse. In addition, membership can be attained with a Level 3 qualification – equivalent to a single A-Level.
The growth of online services offering cheap Wills is a worrying trend – these are simply not a replacement for spending time with a professional Wills specialist. We have not seen a single online Wills service that offers anything besides a simple or Mirror Will, neither of which will be suitable for the vast majority of people. Further, how can an ‘expert’ really check your Will, without having conducted a comprehensive fact find in the first place? The questionnaires that generate your Will are basic at best. Nor is any evidence recorded at the time of generating your Will to confirm that you had the required capacity to make it – or that you even pressed the buttons yourself!
April King’s specialist Will writing service is managed by lawyers regulated by STEP, the SRA and CILEX. They are fully accountable to a professional body with a comprehensive Code of Conduct. We offer a quality TEP-led service run by experts with decades of legal experience that cannot be replaced by a simple online questionnaire. Rather than being a one-stop shop for every conceivable legal service like many high street solicitors’ firms, we are truly specialists that focus on estate planning.”
Guides and FAQs
From the blog:
We answer the question: “What happens if I die, was previously married and had a Will but I am now remarried and have not written a new Will? I have children with both my previous partner and my current partner.”
We look at the matters to take into consideration when gifting personal possessions in your Will, including ways to gift, ademption, tax, CGT & expenses.