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Importance of preparing a will

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“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” … Benjamin Franklin perfectly summarises the position in respect of preparing a will.

Many underestimate the importance of preparing a will and many assume that it is too early to think about what should happen to your assets following death.

A recent survey by the Citizens Advice Bureau revealed that the number of enquiries about people who have died without making a will has more than doubled over the past five years, with almost 3,747 queries being received in 2015.

Why it is important to leave a will?

You are ensuring that your wishes are carried out and gifts of sentimental value are left to the intended beneficiaries. This can reduce emotional stress for your family following your death and can avoid potential disputes arising which can be costly.

If you have children under the age of eighteen, it is important that a will is in place to appoint the correct guardians for your children.

It is also vital that your will is constantly kept under review especially where there has been a change in circumstances e.g.  recently divorced, recently married or where you have recently had children.

What happens if you don’t have a will?

Your estate will be subject to the intestacy rules. These rules are stringent and inflexible, which means your assets are distributed in accordance with the law and not with your wishes.

The intestacy rules do not necessarily say that all of your assets will pass to your surviving spouse.

The following can not benefit under the intestacy rules;

  • Friends
  • Carers
  • Unmarried couples/civil partnership
  • Step Children
  • Charities

It emerged last month that the musician Prince died without making a will. His assets worth hundred of millions of dollars will now be managed by a bank and distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules.

Taxation implications

Drafting a will is also important for tax planning purposes. Assets over the current threshold will be taxed at 40%.

John Smithers from the Law Society, which represents Solicitors in England and Wales recently said;

“A will helps to ensure that your assets are divided among the family, friends and charities of your choice, and can help you manage the amount of inheritance tax you pay”

There may be several IHT reliefs available to you depending on your personal situation that will be wasted if drafting a will is left too late.  We can help you consider your position and advise ways to help reduce the burden of inheritance tax.

In summary

The process of drafting a will is unique to everybody and there are a lot of factors to consider. However taking that first step is the most important, so why not speak to our experts today and arrange a consultation.

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