Estate planning

Will Writing & Law Changes to Intestacy Rules

Those kind people over at the Estate Planner’s Network have updated us on changes to intestacy rules, from October 1st, 2014. The Inheritance and Trustees Powers Act 2014 comes into effect on the 1st October 2014. Listed below are a few key points that will be of interest to Will Writers & Estate Planners. To see the full legislation please visit http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/16/contents. Changes to the intestacy rules – Currently the surviving spouse or civil partner of the deceased where there are no children has to share the estate with surviving relatives of the deceased if the estate is greater than £450,000. Under the new rules the spouse or civil partner will inherit the entire estate. Where the deceased has children and the estate is worth more than £250,000 the surviving spouse/civil partner will now receive one half of the residue in full, rather than a life interest. The statutory legacy for spouses and civil partners will now rise, at least every five years, in line with the consumer prices index. Adopted children – The new laws alter the position of adopted children on the death of intestate parents to rectify an issue where adoption of a child after the death of the parent could affect a claim to their inheritance. Definition of chattels – The definition of chattels has been simplified and now reads “means tangible movable property, other than any such property which consists of money or securities for money, or was used at the death of the intestate solely or mainly for business purposes or was held at the death of the intestate solely as an investment”. Claims for dependants – Amendments are also made to the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and, for example, expand the definition of who can make a claim to an estate to include a person ‘treated as a child of the family’ Where you require any help or assistance in updating or writing your will, please contact us. Related articles What Downton Abbey can teach us about dying without a...

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Estate Planning All Over the World

For many people, the words “estate planning” may conjure up thoughts of large inheritances and tax shelters. But planning “isn’t just about death and taxes; it’s also about what happens if you get very sick and live.” The Wall Street Journal informs its readers about ‘Four Estate-Planning Documents Everyone Should Have’ and that ‘Plans Aren’t Just About Inheritances and Tax Shelters.’ They go on to suggest that almost everyone would benefit from drawing up legal documents to protect  the living period of a person’s life (the only time you can be alive!) and with full estate planning, suggesting the need to look at Living Wills and Power of Attorney documents for both finances and health as well as the traditional planning via a Will. The reason people need these documents in the US of A is just as relevant in the UK, as they probably are, in most jurisdictions across the...

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A Will Writer’s View about Funeral Plans

I am a will writer and I see clients regularly who know nothing about what happens when someone dies. Here I hope to share some of my thoughts with your readers. It is a very difficult time for anyone, young or old, to deal with the death of a loved one. Having had personal experience with this I can relate to this, first hand. I do feel that there is a need to supply clients with a breakdown of ‘what to do when someone passes away’. I strongly feel that the list should not be over extensive, but to indicate the initial matters to deal with. Probate and estate administration should be at the bottom of the list and should not go into a great deal of detail, but give an indication of how to obtain further information once the funeral has been dealt with. People have indicated to me that they have no idea what to do when someone dies, other than contacting a doctor. It is somewhat a little easier when someone dies in hospital as some of the initial matters are dealt with by hospital employees. Many people have no idea why it is necessary to have a post mortem. However, some are daunted by having to go to the register office to register the death and are totally out on a limb. If someone takes out a funeral plan it does take a lot of the pressure off the family in trying to sort the initial matters out. I know myself that elderly people do not talk to their children or family about their wishes for their funeral and this can make things extremely difficult at a time of grieving, especially to sort out the final arrangements for a loved one and deciding what they would actually like. Very often only the choice of a burial or a cremation is indicated in a will. Having had the forethought to choose a funeral plan indicating their funeral choices, it is one less burden for the family to deal with. I do agree that many relative’s second thoughts are ‘How much are they getting from the will,’ but it is also important for the deceased to have left details of where the will is and to know who the executors are. Many people do not even discuss with their families who their doctor is. I know when...

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Why Didn’t Singer Amy Winehouse Leave a Valid Will?

Singer Amy Winehouse didn’t leave a valid last will and testament when she died. The probate court shows that she left £4,257,580, but after taxes and debts, this reduced to £2,944,544. This doesn’t account for her income in the future from CD and other music and DVD sales. The article in Forbes discusses why it is important for everyone to have a valid will which is updated regularly. Without a Will it is not known who she wanted to leave her fortune to. As she died  ‘Intestate’ there are a strict list of potential beneficiaries laid down in law by the government, which you can see in this intestacy-flow-chart from the Society of Will Writers. A valid and up to date Will gives you the opportunity to leave: the right money, to the right people, at the right time. It allows you to cut people out of receiving your money (if it’s legally correct to do so; for example, you can’t cut out young children that you’re responsible for). You can also decide who you wish to look after children under the age of eighteen if both parents should die before the children reach the age of majority. There are many advantageous tax reasons for having a valid will in place. This could save your estate from being eaten up by Inheritance Tax. A trust may be advisable for your estate, but how would you know? The sooner you are able to meet with a professional will writing adviser, then the sooner your estate planning can be in place for your security and future planning. Related articles what you didn’t know, you didn’t know about...

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10 Horrendous Will Writing Mistakes

Writing a will is not just for the rich and famous. As soon as you own assets it’s best to write your last will and testament so that your finances and the future for your children are taken care of effectively and efficiently. Unfortunately, people make terrible errors writing their own will, which is why you always employ a professional who is an experienced expert. So what are these dreadful errors that people make? The wording of the will becomes ambiguous and it’s not clear what you are leaving for your family, friends and other beneficiaries. This may cause arguments and conflict amongst those who were close to you, before your death. Failure to appoint suitable executors may leave people administering your estate without any due care and attention. Some people try to leave their property to other members of the family, when their spouse or partner still needs to live in it. A will allows you to appoint guardians for your children if they are under 18 years of age if you die before they reach the age to vote. Failing to appoint guardians may mean that the state decides where your children will live and with whom. Not taking account of tax in advance, may lead you to pay 40% inheritance tax on the assets you leave behind when you didn’t need to. A well worded document will make use of tax-free allowances. Without any beneficiaries, your complete estate may pass to the government and you will have missed the opportunity to direct tax-free money to your favourite charities. Where you are unmarried, your partner may not have the right to receive property from you unless you have taken specific actions to ensure that matters are left correctly. By not offering personal effects to certain people, items may need to be sold as family members disagree. There are parts of your estate that you can give away a number of years before you die and receive certain tax advantages. This involves you being well-organised by taking tax advice and writing your will as soon as you can. There might be people that you may not wish to receive anything from your estate, but a poorly worded will may direct your funds straight to their bank account. All of these errors can be corrected by having your last will and testament written by a professional will writer who...

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