Wills and inheritance tax planning

Probate is technically the legal verification of a will. Appointed executors have a legal duty to manage and distribute the estate of the deceased in accordance with their wishes. For the person appointed as executor, application for a grant of probate is made from the Probate Registry that grants authority to deal with belongings, property and investments left behind. 

Wills are essential to ensure smooth the transition of assets to the intended recipients after death. Without a will the complications can be severe and if large amounts of assets are involved, also very expensive. Anybody with assets to pass on needs a will, and there are many reasons why.

Wills are regularly overlooked and many financial advisors do not actively promote them as they are not lucrative to arrange. A financial advisor should ensure you have a will in place and take some responsibility for your affairs after your death. Below is more information on why a will is crucial, and why not to delay arranging one.                      

Are wills expensive?

The cost of a professional will is correlated to its complexity and can be inexpensive. If your requirements are complex the price may rise, however, the potential stress, expense and taxation that a will helps avoid easily eclipses the cost at a particularly distressing time.

Do I need one?

Many believe a will is not required or expect 'just a basic one' to be sufficient. Many people don't recognise that they need a will before seeking advice and have avoided serious consequences as a result. Some of the world's wealthiest people have suffered due to lack of planning, with many high-profile cases showing us that nobody is exempt.

Is it complicated?

A will can be very simple to arrange, and using a professional can further simplify the process. An expert can quickly determine if a will is actually necessary and only then, you can decide if you would like to accept their proposal.              

Historically, complications arise when professional advice is not sought. Using online services can leave areas uncovered and as the terminology used by lawyers and solicitors is complex, handling legal procedures can be very distressing when a loved one has recently passed away.

If I don't have a will?

The consequences of not having a will can be catastrophic personally, legally and financially. Unprotected estates can see avoidable taxes spiral and without a will, intestate succession rules apply and administrators then distribute your assets.

Surviving spouses and children are usually first to inherit but If none exist, siblings or parents then become  beneficiaries. Under the laws where you live, other relatives may be apportioned parts of your estate, effectively removing control of to whom you want assets to go to.

The right to leave assets or specific items to non-relatives (or exclude them) is also lost without a will. Without loved ones to leave assets to, donations to friends or charities are also ruled out as the state claims the assets.

Should I get professional help?

Yes, always. If an estate is administered by a family member instead of a Grant of Probate. they'll need to apply for Letters of Administration, making them responsible for allocating assets as executor. In addition to adhering to the deceased's wishes, it's imperative wills are fully understood as errors can prove very costly.          

Wills are complex and often feature tax limitation structures, so mistakes in estate management and the division of  assets could result in benefits being taxed and leaving the executor liable.

With experts to help manage financial affairs for when you are no longer here, you can ensure loved ones are protected during the toughest times. Contact us today and you'll to get the estate planning advice you need.

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