Whilst it might not be high on your list of fun things to do, getting your Will done is one of the things you need to be all over given the current climate, and I’m not talking about the weather – I mean COVID-19. Let’s cut to the chase, we’re all going to die – everyone’s done it, there’s no way around it. Planning for it doesn’t bring it any closer.
The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David
Ok, so practicalities. You probably ought to start with what you’ve got. Most say they don’t have much. Well, let me tell you, if you’re a home-owner and you live in the south-east, you’ve got a lot. The other thing is you’re almost certainly worth more dead than you are alive. How? If you have life cover or a pension, these more often than not have a value that only comes to life after you’re dead, and they need to be dealt with.
Next jot down a list of who gets what. Sometimes that can be as simple as dividing your estate equally between those you love, other times you may want to give specific items to specific people. Get something down on paper, make it simple to start with. You might want to give some money to charity. Not only can that be a great thing to do it can also earn your estate a bit of a tax break, so more of the assets you’ve worked so hard to cobble together get to those who are important to you.
Remember inheritance tax can be damned expensive. Anything over your ‘ tax-free’ allowance is taxed at 40% folks. That means if you don’t plan, 40p out of every £1 over your tax-free amount goes to the taxman. Not much 40p eh? Well, £100,000 over the tax-free limit will cost £40,000. You do the math. It’s imperative you know what you’re worth so you can plan.
Gosh, we nearly forgot the children! If you die whilst they are still children and you haven’t formally appointed a guardian, little Johnny, or Jane, will not automatically go to live with the Godparents, your Mum, sister or anyone else you had in mind. They will be made a ward of the Court and social services will decide where they live. If you’re happy with that then good luck, if not, then think about who you want to appoint to look after them if you’re not here.
Who’s going to deal with all this? That would be an executor and a trustee. Often they can be the same person, and you ought to consider more than one, in case the person you chose dies before you do. It happens.. You need to appoint people you trust, perhaps family or friends, or even a firm of solicitors of course. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a mix of the above and sometimes that can be very practical.
Once you’ve done all that, pick up the phone and make an appointment to see a solicitor who specialises in this area of law. If you had an eye problem you wouldn’t go to a knee surgeon. Why then wouldn’t you do the same with your solicitor? See a specialist and get the right advice. You can go online of course for a few pounds and use one of those DIY Will packs, but then if you had a toothache would you grab your pliers and pull out your own tooth? Yeah me neither.
Don’t leave your Will to chance.
This information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and each relationship breakdown requires careful consideration in our view by a fully qualified Solicitor before decisions are made and before you embark on a certain course of action.
Wills, Trusts and Probate team
0207 183 1485