Top Ten Questions About Wills And Estate Planning.
Family matters are a team of expert legal practitioners who are here to offer you support and guidance in the future financial security of your loved ones. Our estate planning solutions and services include:
- Will Writing
- Estate Planning Solutions; Trusts, LPA, Legal Guardianship.
- Pension Review Service
- Building and Contents Cover
- Income Protection Cover
- Serious Illness Cover
- Critical Life Cover
- Life Insurance
Estate planning can be quite complicated so we have put together some of the most frequently asked questions we receive. Take a look and decide whether our services can benefit you in any way.
Q1. Why Should I Use A Professional Will Writing service?
A. Whilst everyone should take advantage of our professional will writing service (it could save you a great deal of money and stress however much you are leaving), there are times where it is particularly important that someone with legal expertise assists you when writing a will. These include when:
- You own assets overseas
- You run a business (which may form part of your estate).
- You are likely to pay Inheritance Tax
- Your family circumstances are complicated (several ex spouses, children with different partners, or you care for vulnerable individuals or minors etc).
Q2. What Happens If My Loved Ones Are Not In A Position To Receive Their Inheritance?
A. There are times when it is not always suitable for a beneficiary to receive their inheritance all at once. They might be young, vulnerable or struggling with addictions to maybe drugs, alcohol or gambling for example. It might be more appropriate for their inheritance to be released in stages under the supervision of a trusted friend, family member or professional.
Q3. What If You Or Your Spouse Remarries After Becoming Widowed?
A. Have you spoken with your partner about what would happen should either of you die and the other remarries? It is important that you do, as when a surviving spouse remarries following the death of their husband or wife, all jointly owned assets that were inherited by the survivor would typically be shared with their new spouse. A new marriage automatically revokes a previously written will and the new spouse might leave their new-found wealth to someone other than who you were intending. Here, communication is key. Spouses and partners should engage in an open and honest conversation surrounding the future distribution of the family’s wealth so scenarios like this do not arise.
Q4. Does Divorce Invalidate A Will?
A. Many people wrongly assume that getting divorced cancels out a Will made during the marriage. However, failing to update your Will following a divorce could have serious consequences. Divorce doesn’t revoke a Will, nor does it mean your Will from before marriage comes back into effect. For inheritance purposes, your ex-partner is treated as if they had died when your marriage or civil partnership was dissolved. If your Will doesn’t specify what happens in the event of your ex-partner’s death, the rules of intestacy could apply. This means the law dictates who will inherit from your estate. Your estate might be distributed differently to how you intended, jeopardising any inheritance you have planned for the rest of your family. New partners or dependents would not be provided for.
Q5. How would the premature death of a loved one affect things?
A. If you left assets to a married child who had children and that child were to pass away whilst your grandchildren were still young, your child’s inheritance would typically pass to your child’s spouse. If they were to remarry, those assets would normally be shared with her new spouse. Your grandchildren’s inheritance would be diluted further still if the new spouse had their own children. The situation could easily arise whereby your grandchildren could be completely disinherited.
Q6. Financial Hardship And Beneficiaries.
A. If you leave assets left to a beneficiary that becomes bankrupt or suffers a financial hardship, those assets could be taken by their creditors. In fact, assets that are left to beneficiaries in the years following bankruptcy could also be seized. Family Matters can advise you on ways to protect your assets against financial hardship or the insolvency of the beneficiary.
Q7. What Happens If A Beneficiary Becomes Reliable On State Benefits?
A. State benefits are often means tested and as such, an injection of funds from your estate could cause them to lose benefits. Different benefits are affected in different ways
The main means-tested benefits that can be affected by an inheritance are::
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- Pension Credit
- Universal Credit
If you are concerned that leaving a person a sum of money will disrupt their claim for benefits, talk to one of our advisers on how to organise your estate planning solutions with the minimum disruption to others. It’s not as complicated as you might think.
Q7. Is Someone Likely To Contest Your Will?
A. Though The Inheritance Act dictates who can and cannot contest your will. In general, those able include:
- Direct family members, like children or grandchildren
- A spouse, regardless of whether they were estranged or still together
- A beneficiary named in a previous will
- A person who relied on the deceased financially
- A creditor who is owed by deceased
- A person who was promised something by the deceased, but not included in the will.
That said, if anyone believes the will is not legally valid they have the right to challenge the validity of the will.
What are the grounds for contesting a will?
When your will is contested, probate is halted. During this time, the contesting party must prove either the will is invalid, or that you have a bigger claim that outlined. Valid reasons to contest the will include:
- You were not in the right mind when signing the will or were unaware of what you were signing.
- The will was written incorrectly or not signed with witnesses present.
- The signature was forged, which can be proven with a handwriting expert.
- The beneficiaries have a right to the estate but either not named or not adequately cared for.
This is an extremely compelling reason to have a professional create your will. Another reason is that once written, your will will remain in the safe hands of Family Matters until the time arises when it must be accessed. Your beneficiaries will be able to rest assured that there will be no needless complications after your passing.
Q9. Can You Help Me Choose Life Insurance
A. At Family Matters, we have a wide range of specialist protection plans and services to choose from. We are happy to guide you through them and find the right policy for your circumstances, however simple or complex it may appear. We will consult with you about what you want or need, then using our large network we will compare plans and protection services from both the high street and products only available to our team of professionals here at Family Matters. It is our aim to find the most appropriate policy plan for your circumstances.
Q10. How Will My Inheritance Tax Get paid?
A. Inheritance Tax (IHT) is a tax on the estate of someone who has died. It includes all property, possessions and money. You accumulate assets from your NET income over years and years and when you die, HMRC take payment of 40% of the amount you leave your loved ones (not spouses) If the value of your estate exceeds the Inheritance Tax threshold of £325,000. HMRC requires payment before they issue the Grant of Probate. If it is not paid within 6 months of death, interest will be charged. HMRC sometimes allow the tax liability to be paid in instalments over a period of often 10 years.
There are various ways of planning for payment of the tax. Here at my Family Matters, we have a wide range of specialist Protection Plans and services, that will help you and your loved ones, when life on occasions through us an obstacle. Our Tax experts want to work with you to maximise inheritance for your loved ones.
Getting in touch with us today to talk about estate planning solutions. It could save your family thousands in the future.