Many of us put off making a Will, because it means admitting our own mortality, and because we want to believe we have plenty of time for that sort of thing.
At Continuum, we know that this is a serious mistake, that will cost your loved ones money they may desperately need.
It is a common problem. Around 60% of UK population don’t have a will. Most believe – or at least hope – that their estate will somehow go to the right people automatically once they die. In fact, if you don’t make a Will, the law decides what happens to your worldly goods under the rules of intestacy. These are looking increasingly out of touch with modern life, and their edicts will probably not fall in line with your wishes.
So, if you are married with children and your estate is worth more than £250,000, your spouse will only get the first £250,000 absolutely (the statutory legacy) plus 6% interest from date of death to payment in England and Wales, and half of the residue absolutely. The remainder will go to your children.
At the very least, making a will can ensure that your wealth is distributed in a way that reflects your family and the people you care about.
But your will can do more than indicate who gets the cash in your bank, or even who takes over your family home.
Most of us would rather leave our wealth to our loved ones, rather than the taxman. Your will is one of the most important tools for intergenerational planning, which is designed to do just that.
Why Wills have become important
The traditional lack of wills – and a view that they were only for ‘rich people’ may reflect the simple fact that previous generations may have had very little to leave to their loved ones. A home was likely to pass to a surviving spouse, and the death of second parent would usually see it sold and the proceeds passed on to children under probate.
But we have become wealthier, and this means that thanks mainly to the constant increase in the price of property, many more of us will have inheritance tax (IHT) deducted when we pass on our estates. At 40% of everything we leave above £325,000 (excluding an allowance for the family home) it means a substantial reduction in what you can pass on to your loved ones.
Your will is your first, and most important tool for intergenerational planning.
How a Will can reduce Inheritance Tax
Your will can let you provide for your loved ones, and with the proper arrangements, it can make your provision more generous, because it keeps more of your money away from the taxman.
Making the right use of charitable donations, your pension and a wide range of business related items can be helpful, as can placing certain assets in trust. If you have enough wealth, a trust can provide financial support for several generations, delivering income while leaving the capital untouched. But you will need help from a Continuum adviser to arrange a will that can use the allowances and exemptions to the full.
At Continuum, we regularly work with solicitors to advise on reducing tax liabilities through careful use of bequests. If you are determined to pass your wealth on to your loved ones rather than the taxman, talking to us could be the first step in arranging a will that works.
The information contained in this article is based on the opinion of Continuum and does not constitute financial advice or a recommendation to suitable investment strategy, you should seek independent financial advice before embarking on any course of action.
The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate estate planning, wills, tax and trust advice.