Will Planning – what to consider
Are you looking at Will planning or thinking of what to include in your Will? This month (10 – 16 May) is Dying Matters Awareness Week, when organisations and individuals open up the conversation surrounding death, dying and bereavement. Having an up-to-date and valid Will in place ensures your life legacy is dealt with in the manner you would wish upon the event of your passing. It will protect loved ones and assets and where appropriate, mitigate tax within the constraints of the law.
In this time of Covid-19 and the consequent haste to “put your house in order”, when you’re Will planning it pays to take note of the following tips so that you and those close to you can have a Will which ensures an efficient inheritance:
- Seek Regulated Expert Legal Advice – Unfortunately, the writing of wills is not a “regulated” legal activity, meaning anybody can set up to do it. During the Coronavirus pandemic last year the BBC reported that the upsurge in the demand for Wills, combined with the need to social distance, literally lead to “wills being signed on car bonnets”. When embarking upon your Last Will and Testament always call upon qualified, experienced and insured legal professionals. All solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) so that you are not only receiving qualified expert advice, but if any dispute does arise between client and solicitor the client has a meaningful way of redress via the SRA and Legal Ombudsman Service.
- Work out what assets you own – The value of your assets and how they are held (for example in property or shares) will determine your liability to pay taxes. As a starting point, compile a list of your assets and liabilities together with approximate values. Your solicitor will then be able to consider what tax relief might be available.
- Who are your beneficiaries? – If there may be any contentious issues surrounding your Will, once written, consider communicating content with relevant family and friends so that there are no surprises. It may be advisable to prepare a letter of wishes to be kept with your Will, stating why you have chosen certain beneficiaries and excluded others.
- Select an Executor – Executors are those individuals trusted by you to carry out the terms of your Will. You should name more than one person to minimise risk of both passing away before you. Also select substitute executors for those circumstances where those named executors are unwilling or unable to act.
- Have Witnesses in Place – A minimum of two witnesses are required to see you sign or acknowledge the Will in their presence before they, themselves sign the document. A recent announcement from the Government currently allows virtual witnessing of wills from 31 January 2020 to 31 January 2022.
- Keep your Will Updated – Life circumstances often have a habit of changing rapidly and your Will should be updated to factor in any significant life events such as births, deaths, divorce, and re-marriage. Failing to do so may risk the document not outlining what you want it to.
Thinking of making a Will or need to update an existing document? Our specialist team at Bowcock & Pursaill has comprehensive knowledge in this area and can advise on all aspects of Will planning including Trusts, Estate Planning, and Inheritance Tax. Contact our experienced team to arrange a convenient COVID-secure appointment via telephone.
Call us on 01889 598883 to find out how we can tailor advice to meet your individual needs.