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BBC's The One Show this week has touched on a very key issue – the importance of making a Will (and reviewing it regularly once you’ve made one!). I’m sure that making a Will is on many people’s “to do” lists, but it isn’t always something that they hurry to get sorted. It can be a daunting experience first time around, but getting the right advice from a specialist can make the job a lot easier for you.
One question often asked is why a Will is needed – surely your assets will just go to your nearest and dearest?
In this country we’re lucky to have the freedom to leave our assets to whomever we choose in our Will. However, if you have no Will you’re sacrificing this choice and leaving it up to the law to state who gets your assets. The law might not benefit those you would expect. For example if you leave children and a spouse or civil partner, it’s not necessarily the case that the survivor will inherit everything: and if you’re not survived by any relatives in the list set out in the law then your estate would pass to the Crown. If you would prefer to benefit friends or charitable organisations you must make a Will.
Additionally, the administration of your estate is likely to be more complicated without a Will.
You can include many provisions in your Will. Here are just a few of the basics usually found in a Will:
You can also include mechanisms in your Will (such as trusts) to protect assets for vulnerable beneficiaries or to ensure that your estate ultimately passes to those you intend to benefit. A common example here is making sure your children of a previous relationship inherit on the death of your spouse/partner but you want the survivor to be able to benefit during the rest of his/her lifetime. You can also structure your Will to minimise the inheritance tax charge on your death by maximising all available tax reliefs and exemptions (for example exemptions on gifts to charities and reliefs on certain business assets).
It’s great to see this subject being discussed on a prime time programme. Yet another opportunity for us to highlight such an important topic.
For further information about making a Will and advice on inheritance matters contact Sarah Bogard, Partner and Chartered Tax Adviser on 01227 763939 and visit our web pages on Wills and Succession Planning.
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