Will Writing & Estate Planning in Essex.
Let’s face it death is a subject that many of us are uncomfortable with, so it will come as no surprise that up to 70%* of the adult population in the UK do not have a valid Will, and risk leaving their family and loved ones with considerable heartache and confusion. Many of us consider putting our affairs in order at some point in our lives, but due to the pressures of every day life, and our busy schedules, certain things seem to take priority.
The vast majority simply put off writing their Wills because they don’t think they need one, or are not aware of the situation that they may put their family in if something were to happen to them, and they had failed to write a Will.
If you want everything to be in order, and you care about who inherits, or perhaps who looks after your minor children, then now is the time to take action and engage a Professional Will Writer to advise you on drafting your Will.
(*The Co-op legal services 12/2007)
What happens if I fail to make a valid Will – The Laws of Intestacy.
The State has drawn up a set of laws that will be imposed upon those who die without a valid Will, known as The Laws of Intestacy. They are strictly adhered to, and may lead to your spouse sharing your estate with your children or parents, or your partner receiving nothing if you are unmarried.
If you have minor children, and haven’t nominated guardians through a Will, the local authorities will make that decision for you which may be upsetting to your family.
Why Have a Will?
Writing a Will is all about ensuring that your assets are passed on to the people you care about most. A certain satisfaction comes from knowing that you have minimised any potential issues following your death, by having a Will in place.
There are many issues that can be taken care of via a Will, so it is vitally important to make sure that these loose ends are covered, and you have the right type of Will which will highlight your personal and financial circumstances, making the granting of probate as easy as possible.
Having the right Will in place enables you to:
♣ Specify whom you wish to inherit your estate, in what order and in what proportions.
♣ Make specific gifts to family, friends or charities if appropriate.
♣ Appoint suitable guardians for minor children, rather than let the State decide.
♣ Arrange maintenance trusts for children, to protect their inheritance until an age specified by you.
♣ Guarantee children’s inheritance should the surviving spouse remarry.
♣ Help reduce Inheritance Tax (IHT), and can even help to reduce the effects of care home fees.
♣ Show you care about your loved ones and want to avoid as much grief and anxiety at a difficult time, rather than put your family through the rigour of the Laws of Intestacy, not to mention the extra time and expense.
Amending an Existing Will By Way of a Codicil.
We strongly recommend that if you have an existing Will, you review it every five years. Not only might your personal circumstances have changed, through a separation, or the birth of a child, but your financial position or the law may have changed also. These changes in circumstance need to be noted in your Will otherwise it may not be a true reflection of your wishes.
Property Ownership – Changing the Tenancy on your home.
The majority of homes are owned as “Joint Tenants” which in practice means that both parties own 100% of the house, and upon the first death the whole house is automatically passed onto the survivor.
But what if you wanted to leave your half to somebody else, children for instance? Well it is possible by way of becoming “Tenants in Common“. Now each Tenant in Common is able to leave their share of the family home, normally 50% but not always, to whoever they so wish through their Will, by setting up a Protective Property Trust.
The main reasons for setting up a Protective Property Trust are to either protect your children’s inheritance in case your spouse remarries after your death, or to protect half the value of the house in case of care home fees, which are means tested.
Severing the Tenancy.
This is part of the service that we provide and is a fairly painless procedure, normally taking no more than one week. Changing the way that you own your property does not affect your mortgage, or your ability to sell, but may affect your ability to secure equity release at a future date, as some providers will not deal with Tenants in Common currently.
Trusts within a Will.
By setting up a Trust within a Will you can protect assets, and predetermine their distribution. Trusts, if used correctly, can be an extremely potent ally in Estate Planning, we can suggest a multitude of solutions, with much depending upon your circumstances and objectives.
Below are just a few examples of the uses for Trusts set up via a Will:
♣ Sheltering assets can lead to Inheritance Tax benefits.
♣ Assets can be safe guarded against care home fees in certain circumstances, but only up to a certain value.
♣ Discretionary Trusts can either be set up in your lifetime or within your Will to be effected on the first death of a couple. Circumstances will determine which route is appropriate.
Disabled Discretionary Trusts.
How do you provide financially for someone who may find it difficult to manage their own affairs? And how do you achieve this without impacting on their entitlement to disability allowance and residential care, which are means tested?
The provisions of a Disabled Discretionary Trust written into your Will allow for your child to retain their full allowances as well as benefiting from your estate. Effectively the assets in the trust are not owned by the parent or child, and as a consequence these assets will escape the attention of the local authority when assessing entitlement to state benefits. Ideally the Trustees of the Disabled Trust would be made up of trusted family members, who would then make funds available when necessary. This would then in turn potentially avoid having to pay professional fees for administering the Trust.
Now that you have taken the time to write a Will it is imperative that you store it in a safe and secure place. If you have access to a fireproof safe that’s ideal, but if you just store your will at home it is possible that it could be damaged in some way making it invalid, or it could be destroyed in a fire, either of these circumstances would lead to the Laws of Intestacy being applied after your death unless you had another Will written.
Where should I store my Will ?
Searching for a will can cause stress, and hinder the administration of your estate, leading to a delay in obtaining probate.
Leaving a will in a safety deposit box may not be such a good idea, as your Executors may not be able to gain access to the box until probate has been obtained, and probate cannot be obtained without a valid Will !
We offer a safe and secure storage facility via a third party, where you and your Executors would be able to gain access to your Will at a moment’s notice.
Leaving gifts to charity in your Will.
If you leave a gift to a charity or Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) in your Will, its value will be deducted from your estate (your money, possessions and property) before Inheritance Tax is worked out. Gifts made before your death may also qualify for exemption.
Ways you can leave gifts to charity in your Will.
If your estate is liable to pay Inheritance Tax, i.e. over £325000 for a single person or £650000 for a married couple or civil partnership, you could reduce the amount due by choosing to give money to charity.
You can either leave a fixed sum (known as a ‘Pecuniary Legacy’), or part or all of your estate once other gifts have been distributed (known as a ‘Residuary Legacy’).
You can do this through your Will, or by a declaration to the executors or personal representatives giving instructions as to how you would like your legacy to be distributed. If you are leaving money to charity, make it clear exactly which charity you want to receive your gift, a registered charity number will be available (and specify a local branch if necessary).
Gifts made to a charity or CASC in the seven years before your death are exempt from Inheritance Tax.
As of April 2012 any Estate which bequeathes at least 10 per cent of its value to a charitable or cultural cause will enjoy a reduction in inheritance tax, from 40 per cent to 36 per cent.
♣ Please contact us for a FREE Will and Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) pack outlining the options available to you, along with the process involved.
♣ PROBATE - We do not carry out probate work, but would be able to recommend a Probate Practitioner if required.
♣ P.I. COVER - We carry Professional Indemnity Insurance of £2 million.
♣ Berkeley Trusts and Wills offers a specialist Will Writing and Lasting Power Of Attorney (LPA) service throughout the Essex community, predominately operating within the Southend, Leigh, Chelmsford, and Brentwood corridor.
♣ Home, care home and hospital appointments are available outside regular working hours.
Berkeley Trusts and Wills is an appointed representative of New Leaf (WWF) Ltd. Company registration number 7891401.
Will writing Southend, Essex.
Lasting Power of Attorney Canvey Island