Estate Planning and Wills
When we mention ‘Estate Planning’ most people think of huge country mansions and landed gentry with inheritance tax bills greater than the value of the average house.
However, your estate covers property, cash, savings, shares, chattels… everything you can say belongs to you. Your estate can become a subject of scrutiny by the taxman (HMRC), local authorities, or any other legitimate organisation that has a vested interested in the value of your assets in life or death.
Why should you ‘plan’ any aspect of your estate? Well, there are many reasons why you should think ahead to alleviate the inconvenience and hardship that is caused to family just because personal and important wishes and instructions have not been confirmed.
We are not just talking about how your estate is divided in the event of your death. What happens if you or a relative fall ill and need long term care? Nearly 20,000 elderly people every year have to sell their family home because the local authority has assessed them as having the means to pay for their care… and yet planning could have avoided such distress for the individual and the family.
So who should get advice from a professional estate planner?
Single people: may want their estate divided amongst friends, relatives and charities of their choice and in the proportions they want.
Married couples: should not assume “my other half will get everything”. Brothers and sisters or parents may have a claim. Often the children have a right to part of the estate.
Couples living together but not officially married: each partner is treated as a single person and the surviving partner may get nothing at all. One thing you can be certain of – there will be argument and dispute at a time when the family should be coping with the loss of a loved one.
Retired people: according to government statistics there are 10 million people over the age of 65 in the UK and this is projected to rise to 15.5 million in the next 20 years. Family and Property Trusts can protect the hard earned assets of our mature population in the event of long term care requirements.
In 2011 there were 334,435 people diagnosed with dementia in the UK; however, it is estimated that there are a further 439,000 people who are undiagnosed with a dementia related illness. As the population rises the strain on the NHS will grow and the cost of long term care will fall on the sick, the elderly, and their families.
It is easier (and cheaper) to plan now and put in place the procedures and instruments that are agreed by the family in the event of long term illness or what happens when elderly relatives are bereaved.
Parents: although not ‘owned’, surviving children must be considered in the event of both partners dying – who will look after the children? This is particularly important in the case of one parent families or unmarried parents living together. Consideration should be given to nominating guardians in such cases. If no one knows what a parent would have wanted, the Court will decide on the future of the children, and it may not be what the children would have wished.
Business partners: after all the hard work of setting up and building a profitable business, what will happen if a key person dies or needs long term care? Planning for such an event is simple and not as expensive as you might think. It’s just a case of managing the risks.
If you made a Will a long time ago it probably needs updating to include additional children orgrandchildren or changes in the marital status of family members.
If you are interested in seeking advice on preparing a new or amending an existing will, contact Simply Retirement. Alternatively, fill in the quick and easy form on the left and we’ll compare annuity rates for your retirement.