Death is a subject that many of us want to avoid thinking about, but spending just a short time with your solicitor to sort out your affairs could help avoid misunderstandings and uncertainties for those left behind. It will also mean that you, rather than the Government, will decide what happens to your assets.
Preparing for the future
If you should die without making a will (in legal terms this is called dying intestate), the law will determine how your estate is divided. This can cause great uncertainty and distress for everyone concerned, and can take some time to resolve.
It is worth reviewing your will every time a 'life event' happens, including:
- arrival of a child or grandchild
- change in your financial circumstances
- moving abroad
- separation or divorce
- a death in your family
- major changes in the types or rates of taxation
If, however, you make a will, you'll be secure in the knowledge that your loved ones will see your exact wishes being carried out, bringing some comfort during a difficult time.
With professional advice, you can also minimise your tax bill and help a charity by leaving them a tax-free legacy in your will. All charitable donations are taken from the value of your estate before the calculation of inheritance tax (IHT), thereby reducing the IHT liability.
There are three different types of legacies:
A pecuniary legacy is a gift of a fixed sum of money. There is no minimum amount that can be left.
A residuary legacy is a gift of the whole or a share of whatever remains of your estate after all other gifts have been distributed and any debts paid off.
A specific gift is a tangible item such as a house, piece of jewellery or a work of art.
A solicitor can advise as to the best solution for your circumstances.