Independent Will Writing Service and Estate Panning Service Brighton, Hove, Saltdean, Peacehaven, Portslade, Shoreham-by-Sea, Newhaven, Rottingdean, Seaford, East Sussex & West Sussex
Why you should make a Will?
MAKING A WILL is the only way to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death. If you have not made a valid Will, your property will pass according to the Law of Intestacy. This may not be what you would have wished. In any event it is likely to take longer to finalise than if you had made a Will. During this time your beneficiaries may not be able to draw any money from your Estate. It can mean arguments and distress for relatives at a very difficult time. Making a Will lets your loved ones know that you cared enough to ’sort things out’ in advance.
IF YOU are a single person you may wish your Estate divided amongst a partner, friends, relatives and charities of your choosing and in the proportions you require.
IF YOU are married, don’t assume ‘my other half will get everything’. Often your children have a right to part of your Estate. If you are living as a couple but not officially married, you will be treated as a single person and a surviving partner may get nothing at all. One thing you can be certain of – there will be arguments and disputes at a time when the family should be coping with the loss of a loved one.
IF YOU are a parent, you should consider who would look after your children in the event of your death. This is particularly important in the case of one-parent families or unmarried parents living together. A valid Will nominating guardian/s is invaluable in such cases. If no one knows what you would have wanted, the Court will decide on the future of your children, and it may not be what you would have wished.
IF YOU are retired maybe you made a Will a long time ago. It probably needs updating to include additional grandchildren or deletion of persons you no longer feel you wish to leave anything to.
A Will brings security, reassurance and above all peace of mind – not just for you, but for all those who depend on you, either now or in the future.
The moral is clear – we all need a valid Will.
Wills – Your Will lets you decide what happens to your money, property and possessions after your death. By making a Will you are trying to protect your family and give yourself peace of mind.
Should you die intestate (without a Will) you will have no control over where your assets go and assets you have worked hard for may be in limbo for years and will then be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy.
Without having made a Will, your family may also be left facing many legal complications, delays and additional costs at what is already a difficult time.
We, therefore, recommend that everyone writes a Will to ensure that our loved ones benefit from our assets upon our death, however, how do we protect this legacy?
Protecting 50% of your existing Residential Property with the completion of a Life Interest Trust in your Wills – these are often called Protective Property Trusts, Property Protection Trust Wills or Asset Protection Will Trusts.
Are you worried about where your money goes after you die? Common questions people often ask us when they are making their Wills are:
What happens if my spouse remarries after I die?
The new spouse could inherit your assets including your property. This can be because the surviving spouse writes a new Will benefiting the new partner, or fails to make a new Will after re-marrying (when the old Will becomes invalid) and their estate passes to their new spouse under intestacy rules.
What can I do to ensure this doesn’t happen and that my named beneficiaries, who are my children or other chosen beneficiaries, benefit? Make Life Interest Trust Wills.
What about Care Home fees? Only people with assets including their property of less than a certain level receive any help from the State with their care and support costs. People can, therefore, face substantial costs before they can get any financial support from the State.
Joint Mirror Wills which include Life Interest Trusts can greatly help in this situation. But first let’s have a look at the government’s proposals on Care Home fees:
I have read that the State assistance towards an individual’s Care costs will become much more generous in the future. Is this true?
A new Care Cap, was due to come into force from 2016, however, this has now been deferred until 2020. Therefore, from April 2020, there may be a cap limiting the amount people will have to pay for their care and support. The level of the cap will be set out in future regulations.
Each person will have an individual ‘Care Account’. This is not what the individual actually spends but what the local authority thinks they should spend. More importantly the cap only relates to the ‘care’ element of the fees, not the ‘hotel’ i.e. the Care Home board and lodgings element.
Also, after 2020 although we understand the local authority will start to contribute to Care costs earlier – a lot better you may think. However, this will again be on a sliding scale of payments and even when the person’s capital has reduced down to £17,500, we understand the individual’s minimum contribution will still be £402 per week – quite a lot more than current minimum contribution of £36!
So, in other words, the proposed new financial limits sound great but they aren’t really.
Is there still a role for a Life Interest Trust in a Will? Yes, but the purpose cannot be to avoid Care costs. It must be (for example) to guarantee that your assets go to your children or named beneficiaries, and not to your spouse’s new husband/wife and their children.
How do Protective Property Trusts work? Usually couples wish to leave their assets other than their house directly to their spouse. The survivor will, of course, require the liquid assets to pay for normal living expenses. However, 50% of the cash tied up in the house can be protected for the next generation without any hardship to the survivor.
A couple might have to change the way they hold their residential property. For example, typically they will be ‘Joint Tenants’ which means the whole house passes directly to the survivor when one joint tenant dies. They will need to change this to ‘Tenants in Common’, which means they each own a share of the property. They then write Wills containing a Life Interest Trust. Therefore, upon the first death, his or her share of the property is placed into Trust for the children and the surviving spouse is entitled to stay in the whole property as a life tenant, and they can even move house if they wish.
This means that there is a guarantee the children will inherit at least the deceased’s share of the property, which can’t be left to anyone else or, incidentally, used to pay for the Care costs of the surviving spouse.
Life Interest Will Trusts must be written while couples are both still alive and in good mental health.
How do I make a Will containing a Life Interest Will Trust? You should always seek professional Will Writing Advice before writing any Trusts within your Will. For example; if you may wish to release equity in your property by way of an Equity Release type product in the future, writing a Trust within your Will may not be suitable. You can request to receive advice from Grange Estate Planning Services and we can then discuss the suitability of Will Trusts with you.
All our Wills are written by a specialist Will Writer who is a member of the Society of Will Writers. We will always provide you with a fixed quote, in advance of completing any work on your case – please ask us for a quote.
Other things to consider:
Your Will lets you decide what happens to your money, property and possessions after your death, however, what happens before your death?
The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) protects people in England and Wales who lose the ability to make certain decisions for themselves, such as about their health and finance.
You may have assumed that your spouse or family would automatically be able to deal with your bank accounts and pensions, and make decisions about your healthcare, if you are unable to do so yourself. However, this is not the case as without a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), they won’t have the authority.
What are Lasting Power of Attorney’s? When someone makes a Power of Attorney, they appoint someone else to act on their behalf. A Power of Attorney gives the Attorney the legal authority to deal with third parties such as Banks or the Local Council.
What sorts of decisions will my Attorneys make? That depends if you create an LPA for Health and Care decisions and/or for Financial decisions – or both. LPA’s cannot be used until they have been registered with the OPG which normally takes up to 3 months – there is also a fee payable to the OPG for this registration process.
Financial decisions LPA’s deal with decisions such as:
- looking after your bills
- making investments for you
- buying, selling or maintaining your property
- giving gifts on your behalf
Health and Care decisions LPA’s cover things such as:
- whether you live at home or in a Care Home
- the leisure activities, diet and kinds of clothes you prefer
- what happens to your pets if you lose mental capacity
- whether to accept medical treatment to keep you alive beyond a certain point
Therefore, Grange Estate Planning Services recommends that for both Health & Care decisions and Financial decisions, Lasting Power of Attorney’s are always fully considered and discussed and, if you feel they are appropriate, they are completed simultaneously, with any new Will/s.
Please note the details above are not intended to give you advice or to suggest you take a particular course of action. Estate Planning & Will Writing is a complex issue, and if you would like to discuss this please contact us for advice.