If making a Will is something you keep meaning to do but haven’t got around to, we can’t stress the importance of moving it up your ‘to do’ list.
How much you plan to leave your loved ones is irrelevant if you don’t take steps to protect your assets while you are still here to do so.
Around 75% of the adult population have not made a Will or any type of estate plan. According to research by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, of those that have, 1 in 4 were found to have Wills that fell below an acceptable standard.
It is a sad but all too common fact that ‘sideways disinheritance’ affects thousands of bereaved families every year. The term is used to describe a situation where assets that were intended for children or other beneficiaries are diverted away from the desired line of inheritance by a number of life events, such as a person suffering a loss of capacity or needing long term care, or the divorce of a beneficiary.
Perhaps what is most frustrating about sideways disinheritance is that it is entirely avoidable. A well drafted Will can ensure your estate is passed on to your heirs as you intended. With some additional forward planning, it is also possible to avoid lengthy probate delays, and to mitigate the impact of expensive deductions that are applied to a person’s estate after their death.
Why is it important to have a properly prepared Will?
According to the government’s website, gov.uk: “If you die without a will, the law says who gets what.”
Government guidance stresses the importance of having a Will and updating it whenever your circumstances change. You are also advised to seek advice from a legal professional if your Will is not “straightforward”, for example if
- you share a property with someone who is not your husband, wife or civil partner
- you want to leave money or property to a dependant who is unable to care for themselves
- you have several family members who may make a claim on your will, e.g. a second spouse or children from another marriage
- your permanent home is outside the UK
- you have property overseas
- you have a business.
Whilst there are lots of websites where you can prepare your own Will, more often than not, these are found not to be legally drafted.
As part of our Wills and estate planning service, our Barrister Intermediary, Sharon Rigden can carry out a free review of your current plans. Following the review, Sharon will make recommendations and can help to prepare or update your Will, or put together a more comprehensive plan which includes additional aspects such as Powers of Attorney.
We may also discuss your potential liability for Inheritance Tax. Your RfM accounting advisor will be able to help you structure your affairs in the most tax-efficient way.
RfM Legal Services is a member of the Legal Services Guild.