Will Writing & Estate Planning
How can I cut a potential inheritance tax bill?
Each UK resident has a Nil Rate Band of currently* £325,000 if the estate exceeds this on death the amount over the nil rate band is taxed at 40%*. There are several different ways to reduce your Inheritance Tax bill:
Make outright gifts
Set up a trust
Keep your assets while reducing your estate
Managing Inheritance Tax without making gifts
Raising debt against the estate for example an equity release mortgage
Or simply accept the tax and hold a life assurance policy in trust to allocate funds to this
*Correct as of July 2018
What is Estate Planning?
Estate Planning involves passing on more of your assets to your children and others by reducing your potential Inheritance Tax bill. This usually involves making financial gifts but there are other options available.
What should I consider prior to making a will?
Change in family relationships: if you have married, entered into a civil partnership, moved in with your partner, divorced, separated, had a civil partnership dissolved, been widowed or are a surviving civil partner.
Family Growth: if you have become a parent, grandparent, see your family grow, or children have entered your life through a new relationship.
Guardianship: if you have minor children a legal guardian can be named in your will with directions to the guardian.
Reserve beneficiaries: A will can fail due to beneficiaries predeceasing you it is prudent to name a reserve beneficiary to avoid dying intestate.
Should I try and think of every possible situation and try and cater for it in my Will?
No. Making a Will isn’t a once in a lifetime event, so you don’t have to squeeze everything into it! A Will should reflect your circumstances as they are now, not what they might be in the future. We recommend that you should review your Will every five years or so, to make sure it is still appropriate for your circumstances.
What happens if I do not have a Will?
If you pass away without a Will, you will leave your loved ones with far more work to do after your death. It is highly likely that your possessions will not be distributed the way you want.
Instead, the government has laid down rules called intestacy rules which state who has authority to act on the distribution of your estate. These government rules also stipulate who will inherit your property and possessions. It is unlikely this will match your own wishes and it typically has a negative tax consequence as well as cause potential heartache. For example a partner may not receive anything, a house could be split and other wishes may not be followed.
What is a Will?
A Will is a document created to give directions for the distribution of the assets you own on death.
Your properties, assets and belongings (commonly called your Estate) are divided up as per your wishes and passed to whomever you chose known as Beneficiaries.
The Will also indicates who will manage the distribution of your your estate. This chosen person is known as the Executor(s) of your Will. They are also responsible to appoint Guardians to look after minor children when both parents have died.
For a Will to be effective and legally binding it must conform to certain legal conditions (as per the Wills Act 1837) and be signed by the person making the Will in front of two adult independent witnesses present at the same time.