Do online wills fully meet your needs?

Melanie Christodoulou

Senior Associate

View bio

October 27, 2021

Categories Wills and Inheritance

How complex is your estate?

A recent survey of 1,500 individuals by Funeral Solution Expert* showed that nearly 70% of UK customers of online will providers bought a will on the basis that their affairs were simple, however after subsequent questioning, it was revealed that their estates are complex.

So, what would we usually class as ‘complex affairs’? The list below provides an insight into the most common issues:

  1. International assets – where you own assets abroad, you will need to consider how these are passed onto your intended beneficiaries. Often, there are issues of forced heirship rules and Matrimonial Property Regimes that prevent you from simply covering everything in a worldwide will without proper legal advice. This can cause complexities and increased expense on your death.
  2. Business property – it is important to consider any partnership or company agreement as to what happens on your death. In addition, there are tax planning solutions to save on inheritance tax as the business (as well as the property used in the business) may be subject to 100% or 50% inheritance tax business property relief.
  3. Agricultural property – agricultural property relief is available for gifts of land used for agriculture, as well as certain buildings. There are strict conditions that must be met to qualify for either 50% or 100% inheritance tax relief and specialist advice will help plan to utilise this relief.
  4. Second families – it is important to consider step-children and second families. You and your spouse or civil partner may make wills in similar terms, but what if the survivor of you were to change their will on your death so as to remove your children due to a falling out or remarriage? Trust structures should be considered to help preserve funds for each of your respective families.
  5. Dis-inherited children – many families these days do not keep in touch or live nearby. Under English law, you can of course leave your estate to whoever you wish, but that doesn’t mean the will won’t be challenged under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.
  6. Failing to divorce and merely ‘separating’ – if you do not divorce and merely live separate lives without updating your will, then your will is still valid. Only on divorce will your partner be treated as if they had died when the marriage or civil partnership was dissolved. If you have not updated your will, then your estate may not reflect your intentions.
  7. Digital assets – increasing in popularity, it is important to consider how to deal with digital assets and online passwords, especially cryptocurrencies and access to these on your death.
  8. Estates worth more than £1m – estates worth more than the double Nil Rate Bands and Residential Nil Rate Bands amounting to £1 million, will need to consider tax planning advice in light of their will wishes if reducing the burden of inheritance tax is important to you.

The above issues are not an exhaustive list, however hopefully provide an insight into the complexity of will drafting and estate planning. Spend a little more now for specialist legal advice, to prevent unnecessary costs, family stress and unintended beneficiaries inheriting on your death.

For information about making a will contact Associate, Melanie Christodoulou or any member of our Private client team on 01227 763939.

Source*: Funeral Solution Expert