Many put off making a will for a variety of reasons however if you die without one, your assets are distributed according to the law rather than your wishes. By making a will you decide how your assets are shared out, if you are not married or in a registered civil partnership, you can provide properly for your partner, a will allows you to engage in proper estate planning which can minimise the amount of inheritance tax (CAT) your beneficiaries pay.
As mentioned if you do not make a will, there are rules for deciding who inherits from your estate. The following rules apply :
Married (or registered civil partner) – no children : Spouse (or civil partner) takes all
Married – with children: Spouse two thirds and Children one third
Single – no children : Parents take all – equal share
Single – no parents & no children : Brothers and sisters – equal share
Single – no parents, children, brothers or
sisters surviving: Nieces & Nephews, if no nieces and nephews it
goes to next of kin in the following order:
grandparents, if none surviving to aunts and uncles,
if none surviving to cousins.
As you can see, if you do not make a will your husband/ wife will not automatically inherit everything and instead the situation can be quite tricky. For instance if the only asset in the estate is the family home, and no will exists, the property is left to a spouse in two thirds and the children one third. A legal argument could follow whereby the children seek to force the sale of the property to encash their one third share.
In addition, a will allows you to provide for the following important items:
– Specific funeral arrangements
– Appointment of guardians for minor children
– Trusts. A trust can be utilised in a number of scenarios i.e. where you wish to engage in tax planning and
minimise the amount of CAT payable by your beneficiaries, to provide for minor children, to provide asset
protection for future generations
– Personal items and heirlooms can be passed on in your will
It is important to have your will drafted by a professional, in particular a member of the society of Trust & Estate Practitioners ( STEP) to obtain expert advice. Susan Cosgrove of Cosgrove Gaynard Solicitors is a member of STEP and is available to discuss your exact requirements.
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