According to recent research, 58 per cent of the UK’s adult population have not yet written a Will*. By not doing so, these people are potentially leaving their assets according to the law, and not according to their wishes.

The reports published from unveiled that 65 per cent of those aged 40 to 49, have not made a Will. This figure increased to a staggering 76 per cent for those between the ages of 30 to 39.

This may be due to a variety of reasons, such as people feeling it is not important and also not wanting to think about what might happen if they passed away. However, the main reason is likely to be that people presume that in the event of their death their entire estate will pass to their spouse or their children whether they have a Will or not. Unfortunately this is not the case.

If you were to die without a Will you would be said to have died “intestate”. What this means is that your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy and unlike popular beliefs, this does not mean the whole estate passes to your spouse.

The rules of intestacy are quite extensive and depend on various factors such as whether you are married and also whether you have children. For example, if you are married with children the first £250,000 of your estate will pass straight to your spouse or civil partner, plus half of the remainder.  The remaining amount will go to your children.

On your spouse’s death the remaining value of the estate will be passed to your children.

However, if you are not married, have no children and your parents have previously passed away then your estate in its entirety will pass to your brothers and sisters if you have any.

These are just two examples of the rules of intestacy and both are very different. It is unlikely that the rules of intestacy will provide the distribution of your estate that you are happy with and this is one of the reasons why a Will is so important.

Although it is possible to write a Will by yourself it is always recommended that qualified advice is sought to ensure that your Will is valid and it is put into safe keeping so people know where to find it quickly.

In conjunction with having a Will, Inheritance Tax Planning can also help pass on assets to your chosen beneficiaries. This becomes relevant where an individual’s estate exceeds the ‘nil rate band’ and can include a number of measures such as the use of Trusts, but also more simply by making use of gift allowances.  

A Wealth Planner will be able to discuss with you the implications of Inheritance Tax and how best to reduce the amount that will need to be paid to HMRC in the event of your death. The current Inheritance Tax (IHT) threshold (or nil rate band) is £325,000, meaning that if the value of the deceased’s estate – including any assets held in trust and gifts made within seven years of death – is more than this, IHT will be due at 40% on the amount above. Another important ‘nil rate band’ was introduced earlier this year, and applies when property is passed on death to direct descendants such as children or grandchildren.

If you would like to seek advice about how to ensure that your chosen beneficiaries are the ones who benefit after your death, please say hello, we’d love to help.

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate will writing, taxation or trust advice.

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