Author: Helena Luckhurst
This article is taken from Helena Luckhurst’s blog The Wealth Lawyer UK
I’ve seen a huge variety of wills in my time – some good; some not so good! How do you know if your will, or your clients’ English wills, are the best they can be, though?
Unfortunately you can’t tell just by looking at the wording. A will should be unique to the will-maker – like a bespoke suit, it needs to be tailored to the will-maker’s individual circumstances to really hit the mark. However, for certain categories of people, common themes do emerge. So, if you or any of your clients are single, divorced or widowed, here are some ideas for you:
Best type of will for you? One which passes all your assets into a flexible discretionary will trust has much to commend it. Like a chameleon, within two years of your death occurring, its terms can be altered with minimal UK tax implications. Great if your heirs’ circumstances have a habit of changing or can’t be predicted. Also particularly useful if:
Giving trusted will trustees a power to add to the class of beneficiaries of your will trust means that if you happen to meet someone special and don’t get around to updating your will to include them, it is not a disaster.
Assess the potential for financial claims from cohabitees or dependants. Have you promised your assets to anyone? If these claims arise, they will always slow down progress with the estate administration and can cost your estate a lot to resolve. Having a suitably drawn will can help to close down these issues at an early stage, helping everyone involved to ‘move on’.
Think carefully about the impact of IHT – remember no IHT spouse exemption applies to you. Consider the following:
If you own assets jointly with someone else, can you prove what your share is? If you do not want your share to pass to your surviving joint owner(s), ask a lawyer to double check that this will definitely happen.
The above points are particularly relevant to British individuals. Non-UK domiciliaries and Brits owning non-UK situated assets will have additional issues to consider.
Helena Luckhurst, Partner, Fladgate LLP (firstname.lastname@example.org)