Can I really do all that, and more, with just my Will?!
As an Estate Planning Solicitor, I have spent my career working both in city centre law firms and firms concentrated on agricultural farming communities. Between both ends of the spectrum, the one question I am asked most is ‘can I not just prepare my own homemade Will?’.
This is perhaps one of the trickiest questions to answer because of course, signed correctly, a homemade Will can be entirely valid. And with the good grace of family members, agreeing between them to overlook any uncertainties, the estate could well be administered without any adverse issues.
However, one thing I try to stress is that an Estate Planning Solicitor can achieve so much more with a Will than simply passing on assets to future generations. In fact, a Will can be used to address all the following (non-exhaustive) possibilities: –
Administrative provisions which:
- use tried and tested wording which avoid ambiguity.
- name your executors and trustees. Yes, beneficiaries can be named.
- pass foreign assets to avoid forced heirship rules of some European Countries.
- give an indication of funeral wishes, including donation of body to science and medicine.
- name guardians for minors.
- – allow or restrict early distributions for a child’s maintenance and upkeep.
Protect family/assets to try to ensure:
- the home is ringfenced from the surviving spouse’s future care home care fees, whilst still fully providing for the surviving spouse.
- assets are protected if the surviving spouse remarries or cohabits.
- a disabled or vulnerable person can inherit without impacting their welfare benefits.
- personal possessions (heirlooms, sentimental belongings and even pets) are safeguarded.
- future generations (children, stepchildren, grandchildren etc) are included perhaps in differing proportions.
- assets brought to the marriage by one spouse are ringfenced.
- assets inherited by one spouse are retained within their own side of the family.
- a beneficiary’s future inheritance is not lost if they are divorcing or bankrupt.
- businesses may continue to trade after the business owner’s death.
- family loans are repaid to the estate.
- your wishes are fully considered if claims or disagreements arise in future.
Tax mitigation by ensuring:
- Capital Gains Tax (CGT) versus Inheritance Tax (IHT) is reviewed;
- CGT, IHT and income tax are considered before deciding on a suitable trust.
- adequate use of a single person’s £325,000 (IHT) allowance or a married couple’s combined £650,000 allowance.
- adequate use of a single person’s £175,000 residence IHT allowance or a married couple’s combined £350,000 allowance – the rules surrounding this new tax regime are complex.
- the Charity Exemption (which could bring the IHT charge down from 40% to 36%) is considered.
- IHT Agricultural Property Relief (APR) and Business Property Relief (BPR) are not lost if passing estates between spouses.
It is always advisable to review a Will every 3-5 years not least because finances and relationships alter over time, but also because the annual budget means tax law is one of the fastest changing areas of law.
Whatever your circumstances I am confident I can provide you with the best legal advice and Will tailored to suits your needs.
Contact us on 01606 212291 or by email at email@example.com and we’ll be in touch.