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Sort out your Will this new year or risk ‘pot luck’ with your estate

In a recent press interview,  Jenny Pierce, Director at Solicitors for the Elderly, and Head of Wills, Probate and Trusts at Wards Solicitors spoke to journalist Rebekah Evans at Express.co.uk about the importance of having a Will in place:

Jenny said: “If you don’t have a Will, the state will decide who gets what under the rules of intestacy, which depends on someone’s personal circumstances.

“There is a certain pot luck element to this where what a person wants to happen might or might not happen.

“People tend to assume everything will go to their spouse, but not all of it might, and it depends how they own assets with that person.

“But one of the main issues which can pop up with intestacy is between common law partners, co-habiting, who have kept their assets separate and this can lead to claims against the estate. I’ve even seen people having to sue their children in such circumstances.

“Sometimes it won’t cause an issue and everything can pass from person to person with ease. ”

“However, in other circumstances it can be very tricky to deal with, and so having an arrangement in place could save a lot of unnecessary heartache and other issues.”

Being tax efficient

Inheritance Tax, otherwise known as IHT, is payable on the estate of someone who has passed away, and is charged at 40 percent on estates above a particular value. However, the tax is just one element of managing the estate of a person who has passed away. While many people will be trying to reduce their tax bill for the loved ones they leave behind, it is of equal importance to lay out one’s final wishes in a formal and binding document.

In the quest to avoid an unnecessarily hefty tax bill, leaving a Will could be one of the best decisions a person could make.

Jenny said: “Your estate could even end up paying more in tax if you fail to clearly lay out your wishes and what you wish to happen after you pass away.

“To stop this from happening, you should always consider the most tax-efficient ways to do things to ensure you leave what you want, to who you want.

“Think about whether you want flexibility, whether you want to use a trust, whether you want to protect yourself in other ways.”

Preventing family arguments

The article also outlines the emotional toll of failing to leave a Will and the impact this could create on loved ones who are left behind to deal with the matter.

Jenny said: “If you have quite a close-knit family structure and a person has not thought about, or taken care with regards to what happens when they are no longer here, it can actually cause real distress for those left behind.

“It can enhance the anger one would naturally feel upon death anyway, and wishing a person had thought about things.

“This is often about smaller stuff like belongings, and tokens, so it is important to sort these issues out too as it could cause arguments.

“There is a very big human element to making sure that you keep a Will, and that you keep it up to date.

“It’s all about peace of mind. If anything is slightly contentious about what a person is choosing to do, then you need to make an arrangement. If you aren’t being even-handed, why not? And think about making sure you include this, and even talk to your beneficiaries ahead of time.

“If people don’t, then it really just leaves behind a huge mess that can be ever so upsetting for people who are left behind.”

The full version of the article which appeared in The Express is available to read here:

For more information on Solicitors for the Elderly, click here 

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