At Hart Reade our private client lawyers have been watching with interest the BBC series of ‘Can’t take it with you’ which seeks to discuss the issues of Wills, intestacy and inheritance. The programme has highlighted many of the difficulties that we encounter in practice on a daily basis.
Many people understandably do find it very difficult to discuss matters relating to death, money and inheritance which can be emotive topics and as a result of which they put off making a Will.
Up to 70% of the population in this country will die without a Will, as a result of which their estate will be administered under the intestacy rules. This can lead to unexpected results and cause heartache and unhappiness for those who survive you. Married and civil partnership couples do not necessarily inherit all their spouses’ assets, and partners who have been living together for many years but have not married or entered into a civil partnership are not recognised at all.
In today’s society the structure of the family is changing. For example spouses may have married for a second time and whilst they want to leave their spouse well provided for, they may also wish to ensure that any children from their first marriage will benefit from their estate. In such circumstances we can discuss with you the options of making outright gifts, protecting assets by holding them in trust, thus ensuring that a surviving partner is protected during their life time but on their death your share of the estate still goes to your chosen beneficiary, whether that be children from a previous relationship, family, friends or indeed charitable beneficiaries. We can examine the effect and tax consequences of various options.
Special care also needs to be taken if you own your own business, have oversees assets or minor or vulnerable dependents. Particular advice will be needed to ensure your Will reflects these situations, and deals with the appointment of appropriate executors and trustees, or of a guardian to take parental decisions for minor children.
You may also need advice on taxation issues to ensure that available allowances are preserved. Again care is needed to ensure that benefits such death in service benefit, life policies and pension lump sums reach those you want to receive them.
Hart Reade are encouraging anyone who does not have a Will in place or those who have an existing Will in place but the provisions of which need updating due to a change in family or financial circumstances, to remedy this situation. Perhaps you have married, re-married, are going through divorce or separation, have suffered a bereavement or want to look at tax planning provision due to a change in financial circumstances. We can assist you examining these matters, whatever your family circumstances.
We provide you with a personalised service to guide you through the process of putting your new Will in place, ensuring that your estate will pass in accordance with your wishes and in a tax efficient manner. We will establish your objectives and discuss with you the potential consequences of those, and prepare a draft Will for you on the basis of your instructions. This then gives you an opportunity to discuss matters at home and review the provisions before arranging for the Will to be signed.
As has been apparent in the cases discussed during the course of the BBC programme, deciding who gets what in a Will can be one of the toughest choices you can make. However making no decisions at all and dying without a Will can cause rifts that may stay with your family long after you have gone and can do anything about it.
Our experience confirms that once clients have had the opportunity to openly discuss how they want to distribute their estate and have received our professional advice to help them achieve that through their Will, they feel a great sense of relief. They gain a reassurance in setting out their wishes and achieving the outcome that they want and peace of mind knowing that they have done their best to ensure that their affairs have been left in order.