Will PowerWe all appreciate the significance of making and maintaining a relevant will which is true of clients and the population in general.
Up to two-thirds of people in the UK are currently expected to die without having made a will. However, research by unbiased.com indicated that one in ten UK adults without a will believe that the estate will automatically go to the right people. This, however, is not always the case. Married but separated people are treated as if they are still married. Unmarried couples are treated the same as single people with the remaining partner receiving nothing.
Writing a will does not always solve the problem. Currently, will writing is an unregulated industry but investigations carried out by the Legal Services Board concluded that one in four wills fail to achieve what was intended. This can include not executing the will correctly, failing to take into consideration all circumstances and failure to update a will upon change of circumstances.
Under English Law, marriage, or civil partnership, will invalidate an existing will, unless that will was made in contemplation of marriage. Divorce does not however invalidate a will, though the ex-spouse is deemed to have died on the date of the divorce. This does mean that if the former spouse was named as executor and/or subject to a gift in the will, this is revoked.
Wills can include provisions for children born after the will was made. However, to avoid family conflict, updating the will may be advisable.
Clients with assets overseas also need to take additional advice regarding the drafting of wills, as well as any enforced succession rules that may apply in any particular country.
Making a will is important to estate planning and business succession planning as well as being used in parallel with pensions planning and inheritance tax mitigation. These areas need to be assessed in conjunction with each other, to ensure not only that a client’s plans and intentions are adhered to, but that unnecessary tax consequences are avoided.
As you will appreciate, client circumstances can be complex, and although clients may well have wills in place, they may not be relevant to their current circumstances. As such, regular reviews and consultation regarding such areas are the key to successful planning.By Dan Partridge, Consultant