Wills - Registration
The drafting of a Will is not something that anyone approaches with enthusiasm. However for anyone with assets above the £325,000 Inheritance Tax Exemption and for those with anything other than a simple family structure it is essential.
I would encourage everyone to draft a Will, store it securely and provide copies to those who will be charged with executing the Will. All that is required is that you know who you wish to benefit from your Will (beneficiaries) and who you wish to execute the Will (executors). There can be as many or as few of both as you wish but economics and practicality need to be borne in mind. Should you not draw up a Will then upon your death the intestacy rules decide whom the estate goes to. The basic intestacy rules begin with giving all of the deceased’s chattels (belongings) to the remaining spouse and the first £250,000 of the estate along with half of the remainder. The other half of the estate is divided up amongst the remaining relatives, some of which you may not want your estate to go to, as any family has their rifts. It is vital to update your Will with any major life event such as divorce, a common problem is that divorce or re-marriage will have a significant impact on your Will with often unintended consequences.
Some examples where your estate can go to those other than you intended
We had a wealthy bachelor client who unfortunately died prematurely from a heart attack. On our advice he had written a Will. However he had not provided us with a copy nor had he registered it anywhere else. It was believed to be in his home but it was never located. Various relatives made a claim on the substantial estate to the point where four different law firms became involved. Very clearly the only people who benefitted from this were the lawyers!
One of our clients was having some difficulty understanding the maths provided by the solicitors administrating the estate. Having spent an hour running through the paperwork it became clear that the father’s Discretionary Will Trust had been incorrectly included in the estate. This simple correction resulted in a tax saving of £100,000. Here the beneficiary would have been the HMRC!