Wills, Estates and Trusts

We should all consider making a Will to ensure that our estate is handled by the correct people, and goes to the correct beneficiaries at the right time. Many people presume that this will happen automatically when they die, but the intestacy rules, which direct who should administer and inherit the estate if you die without a will, don’t always produce the results you would expect or want.

Intestacy Provisions were laid down in 1925, and although they have been updated to a degree, they still operate best in a “conventional” although increasingly less common family:  married parents with children who then marry the ideal spouse and have their own children, no family or financial disputes or difficulties, no ill-health or long-term care issues, most assets owned jointly as joint tenants, so they pass by survivorship (not all homes will be owned this way- tenancy in common prevents the survivorship rules applying)  and an estate worth less than £250,000.

For everyone else, the chances are you need a will.

A Will can do a great many things:-

  • appoint guardians for children and specify the age at which they inherit (almost nobody wishes any child to inherit significant amounts at 18).
  • substitute executors and beneficiaries in case the original person or people die with you or before you.
  • add legacies to beneficiaries who might not otherwise inherit anything in your estate automatically, such as children, grandchildren, godchildren, friends and charities.
  • make individual provision for various beneficiaries according to their circumstances, if equality between beneficiaries is not what you wish.
  • protect your estate using trusts, so that assets can be ring-fenced for instance to ensure that they reach your children after both parents have died. This can be very important in second relationships, where you want to provide for each other but also each have children by a former relationship.
  • make best possible use of spouse exemption and future lifetime giving.

 

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