The vast majority of people have not made a Will and the administration of their estates will fall under the intestacy rules, statutory rules which direct how an estate is to be distributed. Naturally these rules are arbitrary and will not divide your estate as you wish nor are they necessarily Inheritance Tax efficient nor will those rules consider the nature of your assets, including business assets.
In many instances where there is a surviving spouse and children Inheritance tax will be paid earlier than need be if there had been a Will in place. Additionally, some surviving spouses could be disadvantaged.
Matters get even worse when couples are not married or in a civil partnership.
Other benefits of you making a Will include:
- You determine who are to be your executors.
- You determine who are to be the trustees of any trusts set up under your Will. They may be the same persons as your executors, but could be entirely someone else.
- Executors can generally get matters underway before Probate is granted and can speed up the distribution of the estate.
- If you have minor children then guardians can be appointed under the terms of your Will.
- You can extend the powers of Executors and Trustees in the administration of your estate.
- You can structure your Will and estate Inheritance Tax efficiently
- You can give assets to those you want to have them, not have them pass under some arbitrary rule
- You can protect assets, perhaps your business, by wrapping them in trusts.
Having made your Will you need to recognise that it is a living document and as your assets and circumstances change so will your wishes on the distribution of them on your death. Regular review is sensible and we would recommend every three to five years.
You also need to bear in mind too that a Will can never be irrevocable. When does revocation take place?
- When you specifically revoke a will by execution of a new one in which there is a revocation clause.
- When you get married or enter into a civil partnership, unless the Will is drawn up in specific contemplation of that act.
- When you physically destroy the Will.
- Divorce or annulment will not necessarily fully revoke a Will, merely gifts to the former spouse.
If you wish to make minor amendments to a Will these can be made by what is known as a Codicil. Such a document makes the required changes and usually confirms the rest of the Will.
Foreign Property such as overseas holiday homes can give rise to additional problems as they will be subject to the rules of that country. It may, therefore, be necessary to make a Will in that country specifically dealing with that asset which will not be subject to the laws in England and Wales.
As a complimentary service Aston Shaw provides Will writing through an intermediary who is experienced at understanding your personal and tax planning requirements. For further information on Wills and Intestacy please contact us.