Larry heard recently that his former boss had passed away, age 51. It was a bit of a shock.

“That’s only three months older than me,” mused Larry.

It was even more of a shock to his former boss’s family, as the deceased didn’t leave a Will.

His loved ones are now trying to sort out his financial affairs at the same time as grieving.

So what stops people making a Will?

  • Some are superstitious. They think it is a jinx; that as soon as they write their Will, they will drop down dead. Clearly, this is a ridiculous notion. Writing a Will is not about facing mortality; it’s just part of sensible financial planning.
  • Some don’t care what happens after they die. After all, the Will doesn’t benefit them – they won’t be there so they ‘don’t give a monkeys’ about what happens to their money. This decision is selfish. It means their surviving partner suffers paperwork hassles as well as loss, and their beneficiaries end up paying more tax than they should.
  • Some want to prioritise their spending elsewhere and think they can postpone their death.

Here are some simple questions:

  • Would like you to ensure your legacy is protected from bankruptcy, loss of ‘family money’ through divorce or remarriage, incapacity arising through a health event, your children being too young or inexperienced to deal with property and undesirable taxation outcomes? If the answer is ‘Yes’, get some advice and be prepared to pay a bit more for it.
  • Are you and your partner in agreement that the above is not the case? If the answer is ‘Yes’, arrange a simple Will – it’s not expensive.
  • Do you know where your money would go? If you don’t have a Will then the state decides. Please click here to remind yourself how the state will distribute your estate

The sudden death of Larry’s former boss prompted him to update his Will. But you don’t have to wait for a bereavement to prompt yourself into action. You never know what’s around the corner, and there is no excuse for delaying.

Unlike a pet, a Will is not for life, and needs regular reviews, just like your pensions and other financial arrangements. Laws change, and beneficiaries may come and go throughout your life, such as when you get married, or remarried, or divorced.

So much planning can be done with a Will. Don’t stick your fingers in your ears and go ‘la la la’! Just be grown up about it and give us a call on 01435 863787.

Newsflash

The government has introduced three new ‘stealth taxes’ on death (so it is even more important to do what you can to preserve your assets). Official figures suggest these taxes will raise about £415m in 2017/18, rising to £665m by 2019/20.

1. From April 6, the bereavement benefit received by a widowed parent will reduce from 20 years to a maximum of only 18 months, and will no longer rise with inflation. According to the Childhood Bereavement Network charity, this means that working widowed parents face losing an average of £12,000.

2. Probate must be paid before the estate can be distributed to the beneficiaries, but fees in England and Wales are set to soar by up to 9,300%.

The Ministry for Justice said: “We are introducing a fairer banded system of probate fees which will mean 57% of estates pay nothing. The probate fee will always be recoverable from the estate, so executors will not end up personally out of pocket.”

All estates worth more than £5,000 currently pay a flat fee of £155 if you do it through a solicitor, or £215 if you handle probate yourself. Here are the new fees with effect from May:

  • Estates worth less than £50,000 will pay nothing
  • £50,001 to £300,000 will pay £300
  • £300,001 to £500,000 will pay £1,000
  • £500,001 to £1m will pay £4,000
  • £1m to 1.6m will pay £8,000
  • £1.6m to £2m will pay £12,000
  • More than £2m will pay £20,000

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the statutory fee for issuing probate remains unchanged at £200 (in Scotland, there is no charge for estates less than £5,000).

The new charges will particularly hit cash-poor property owners. Bereaved families may have to borrow money in order to pay the new fee in addition to the inheritance tax bill or take out insurance to cover it. Either way, interest charges or premiums will need to be paid.

One way to reduce probate costs is to reduce the size of your estate by using your £3,000 tax-free gifting allowance each year, as well as the one-off £250 gift allowances. You could also gift as much as you like out of income as long as it doesn’t significantly affect your lifestyle and is done regularly.

3. The inheritance tax threshold has been frozen. Set at £325,000 since 2009, it will stay at this level until at least 2020. As house prices continue to rise in many parts of the country, it means more people will have to pay the charge.

For more information about Wills, check out our previous articles, including:

Poppycock, balderdash and hogwash

How to protect your children from paying too much IHT

I don’t want my children to inherit when I die

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