We’re well into our estate planning series now, having covered things like why you need a will, why you shouldn’t cut corners when finding someone to construct your will, and whether or not you need a will for your digital life. As you can see by the breadth of subjects that we’re covering, there’s a lot to it. So, let’s look at how you can make your will planning go a little smoother.
This may sound daft, but waiting till you’re ill or on death’s door isn’t a good idea. That said, there are thousands of people that do just that, scrambling to put a will together last minute or not having the time to do it at all. This can put your loved ones in a tricky spot as dying without a will causes a lot of complications, and if you have dependents relying on money or property from your will, it could be a long time until they have access to it if you don’t have things in order.
It gets worse. No will means extra legal work, which means extra legal fees. We’ve talked about minimising expenses in your investments a lot in our blog, and it’s just as relevant here. So, unlike the roof which you say you’ll get fixed year after year, a will needs sorting out asap.
Get a recommendation
A will is something that you can do yourself. There’s plenty of ways to do it without taking legal advice, but we’ve already given you our opinion on this – we think you’re better off taking legal advice, and we’d recommend Ann-Marie Matthews at Barker Gotelee Solicitors (give her a call on 01473 350574).
Appointing a solicitor should mean you have an expert dealing with the complexities of your will, but it’s worth taking two further steps before you appoint someone. First, get a recommendation so that you know you’re dealing with someone with experience, and second, having a rapport with the person is a good idea. Why? You’re going to be disclosing a lot about your life, so it makes sense to be working with someone you trust and get along with.
Make a list of your assets
Do you actually know what you own? You might think you do, but the chances are until you go through this process, you don’t. You need to create a comprehensive lift of all of your assets. This includes big things like any investments, savings accounts, pension pots, insurance policies and property, but should also include any sentimental, valuable or collectible items that you might own. When you get down to it, it’s likely to be a big list, and you don’t want to be coming up with it while you’re sitting opposite your solicitor!
Have the big conversations early
As well as taking care of the ‘who gets what’ side of things, a will has several crucial functions which need careful early consideration. The most obvious is to designate who will look after your children if you die, and how they will be provided for – and this requires a conversation at a very early stage as it’s clearly a big commitment.
But it’s not the only question that your will can answer, and that you therefore need to consider. For example, who would you want handling your financial affairs if you’re ever incapacitated? And what about if you’re deemed incapable of making medical decisions for yourself? Who would you want to do that for you? A will can designate people who you trust to take care of both of these things for you, but it’s not a job to designate without a deep discussion.
Have inheritance tax in mind
2015 has seen some amendments to the rules on inheritance tax, which of course, makes it ever more complex. The first thing to assess is whether you will actually be liable for any inheritance tax at all. Currently (January 2016), if your assets are worth more than £325,000, you will owe tax on anything above that figure (unless you leave some to charity – worth researching if it’s something you’re interested in).
But the big news this year was that the tax would be scrapped on a family home worth up to £1m passing on from parents (or grandparents). Note that this is reduced to £500,000 for singles. This is being gradually phased in from 2017, and it could have a big positive impact on your inheritance tax bill.
It’s quite possible to massively mitigate your inheritance tax bill through entirely legal means, so if you’re leaving a large estate, it’s worth taking advice early.
And there we have it. Five ways you can make your will planning go smoothly. Got a great tip of your own? Share it in the comments below.
This article is for general use only and is not intended to address your particular requirements. It should not be relied upon in its entirety and shall not be deemed to be or constitute advice.
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