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Intuitively, most of us know that it is best to have a Will in place for an estate plan. Yet what are the concrete benefits of doing so? How, exactly, is it better than doing nothing? Below, our team at Elmfield Financial Planning in Padiham, Burnley, Lancashire answer by specifying how the UK’s rules work. We hope you find this content useful and invite you to contact us if you’d like to speak to an independent financial adviser. You can reach us via:
T: 01282 772938
Ease of administration
When you eventually die, your family and officials (e.g. local authorities) need to go through your estate – i.e. your belongings, property and money. When you have a will in place this whole process is much simpler and cheaper, since you can clearly specify who you wish to administer your estate. Without a will, however, you are classed “Intestate” when you die and an Administrator (a person who will administer the estate) will need to be appointed by application to a court. This process can be lengthy and result in the appointment of someone undesirable. It also adds cost which thus eats into the value of your estate – leaving less for your loved ones.
Limiting/avoiding insurance costs
If you die “Intestate” and require a court-appointed administrator, this person may need to take out insurance to cover their actions (e.g. possible mistakes that could be made) in relation to dealing with your estate. If so, the insurance cost will need to be covered by your estate. When you have a Will, however, your named executor(s) normally do not need this insurance – thus saving significantly on unnecessary costs.
If you own any property, then having a legally-airtight Will allows you to specify very clearly what you want to happen to it when you die. Without a will, however, the state decides what happens to your property. This means you have no say and could lead to outcomes you may not have chosen – such as the property getting sold, or inherited by the “wrong” people. Bear in mind that the UK’s intestacy rules were created over half a century ago. They do not necessarily cater to the nature of modern relationships or family structures. Intestacy also takes little account of how “close” your relationships are with relatives.
Specifying what to do with your remains
Do you want to be buried or cremated? In either case, how and where would you like it to take place? With a will, you can be very specific about your wishes on these matters and also plan accordingly for the costs involved. If you lack a will, however, then the intestate rules come into play and your court-appointed Administrator decides what happens with your body. This can lead to huge family upsets, especially if there are differences of opinion. A will helps avoid all of this!
Looking after children
What should happen to your dependents – e.g. young children – if you die prematurely without a will? Under intestacy rules, things are a bit more straightforward if you have a surviving spouse or civil partner who shares legal responsibility for the dependent(s) in question. However, it all gets much more complicated if, say, you leave behind a foster child or stepchild. Without a will in place explicitly stating what you would like them to inherit, they will not receive anything from your estate under UK intestacy rules.
Protecting unmarried partners
If you have an unmarried partner, bear in mind that he/she is not automatically entitled to anything from your estate when you die. This is the case even if you lived together for decades and had children. The only way to ensure they receive anything is to make a will or get married.
Mitigate unnecessary taxes
Of course, there is also the matter of inheritance tax (IHT) to navigate when it comes to passing your hard-earned wealth onto your loved ones. The bill can be quite high, since in 2021-22 you start paying 40% IHT on the value of your estate over £325,000. Under intestacy rules, your court-appointed executor may not know the intricacies of estate planning to help mitigate the impact of IHT upon your estate. This could lead to decisions which result in a higher IHT bill, and therefore less wealth passing to your family. With a will, however, you can be very specific about how you want your estate to be administered and distributed. This can potentially save a lot of money in unnecessary taxes, particularly via the use of pensions and trusts.
Making a will beats dying intestate – hands down. Whilst it may be tempting to simply delay the decision, consider investing time to create a will to give yourself (and your loved ones) peace of mind and clarity about the future. Also not leaving a Will can lead to more claims against the estate.
If you are interested in starting a conversation about your own financial plan or investments, then we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us to arrange a free, no-commitment consultation with a member of our team here at Elmfield Financial Planning in Padiham, Burnley, Lancashire.
Reach us via:
T: 01282 772938