Probate and Will, Trust & Estate Disputes

Publish date

21 November 2022

Why it is never too early to make a will

Simon Mitchell, Partner in our Wills, Estate & Tax Planning team, recently shared his thoughts with My Tunbridge Wells

While it might not be something that people are keen to think about, the truth is that you are never too young to think about what will happen to your loved ones – especially your children – and your assets when you pass away. In fact, your will is arguably one of the most important documents you will ever sign.

This is especially true as many people do not realise that if they die without having made a will, strict intestacy rules apply, which may mean your assets do not pass on as you would like them to. These rules may also cause tax problems for those you leave behind.

With record house prices across the South East and especially in the Tunbridge Wells area, real consideration also needs to be given to your potential exposure to Inheritance Tax (IHT).

What should you include in your will?

If you do not yet have a will in place, the key elements to consider when estate planning include:
•    Wishes for your funeral
•    Appointing executors
•    Appointing guardians to look after your minor children
•    Making gifts of cash or personal possessions, as well as gifting to charity
•    Providing for a spouse or partner – if you live with someone, but are not married or in a civil partnership, your partner will have no automatic rights to your property if you die. There is no such thing as a ‘common law’ husband or wife. Spouse and civil partners also benefit from spouse exemption for inheritance tax purposes but unmarried partners do not benefit from any such exemption

•    Providing for children, especially in terms of whether to pass assets to them outright or whether to hold assets in trust for them
•    Determining all of your assets and liabilities i.e. property, bank accounts, stocks and shares, pensions and life insurance, digital assets, mortgages and other debts
•    Taking advice around IHT and lifetime gifts
•    International assets and how they will pass on your death, bearing in mind that succession rules in other countries can be very different from the rules in this country
•    Business interests and shareholdings, including the tax reliefs that can apply to these sorts of assets and how to maximise or safeguard those reliefs
•    Taking advice around setting up Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) in case you become physically or mentally incapacitated and cannot enact or make decisions.

How often should you update your will?

For those who already have a will in place, it is sensible to review it on a regular basis, and especially in light of any of the following:
•    Marriage or civil partnership – getting married or entering into a civil partnership will revoke any will you have in place already, unless the will makes specific provision for the marriage
•    Divorce
•    Changes to executors
•    Changes to beneficiaries – this is especially true if you make a will and subsequently have children
•    Acquiring or selling property or assets (including an inheritance).

It is only natural to want to protect your loved ones after you have passed away, and to be able to pass on any wealth you have built up in the most effective way. This can be quite a daunting prospect, but with the right support and expert advice, it is possible to put your mind at rest.

Our experienced and approachable team have advised generations of families on the best way to protect and pass on their wealth. We’d be happy to help you to do the same. Get in touch for an initial conversation

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