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Published on February 11th, 2015 | by Pete

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Top Tips On Inheritances And Making A Will

Without a Will, you have no control over how your estate is divided between those you leave behind. You also have no control over who cares for children, what happens to partners or who is left out completely. According to recent research by Will Aid, 26 million people in the UK do not currently have a Will, either through procrastination, ignorance or misguided belief they have nothing much to leave.

Making a Will is probably easier and cheaper than you think, and you owe it to loved ones to put your affairs in order whilst you still can.

How to Make a Will

Look for a Will-writing firm that belongs to The Institute of Professional Will Writers, and that display the TSI (Trading Standards Institute) logo. Such companies have agreed to a good standard of service, will give clear advice before any contract is signed and have a clear complaints procedure.

Some caution is needed since there are many Will-writing services and they are unregulated. As such, Wills drawn up by non-lawyers are exempt from the complaints handling body and are subject to problems and complications.

Ask friends or family to recommend a solicitor, or consult the Law Society website using their ‘find a solicitor’ function. Make sure the solicitor you choose has probate expertise and ask for an up-front quotation.

Security For Children

You need to provide for children in the event of your passing. Minor children especially are vulnerable, since who would care for them if you weren’t there? By making a Will you can stipulate who will be their legal guardian and who will take care of their finances or administer any trusts until they reach age 18.

For grown up children, you should make it clear how you’d like your estate divided. You may think they will play nice and take equal shares, but rivalry can creep into the happiest of families, especially where money is concerned. A will makes your wishes clear.

Security for Partners

Whilst new rules came into law in October 2014, the rules regarding non-married partners remains the same. There is a general assumption that if you’ve lived with someone for a number of years, and especially if you have children together, the partner will inherit should you die without a Will.

In fact, the opposite is true.

Under the law, a partner you’re not legally married to or have a civil partnership with has no right to any inheritance from your estate. They could lose the home they may own with you, and any right to money you may think they’ll automatically get.

If this situation applies to you, you should seriously consider making a Will to secure the future well-being and security of your partner and children.

Making Will Changes

Certain circumstances should provoke a review of your Will. These circumstances include:

• Financial changes (e.g. Buying property)

• Marriage

• Births

• Divorce

• Dissolution of civil partnerships

• Emigrating

• Taxation changes

A review is recommended every three years or so, and if necessary codicils should be added to your existing Will. Codicils need witnessing and signing just the same as the original Will since they form legal and binding changes to your original Will. You can add as many codicils as you like to a Will.

Leaving Legacies to Charity

Leaving a legacy to charity could ease the tax burden on your estate, since they are exempt from inheritance tax. In 2010, inheritance tax laws changed so that donating 10% of the content of your Will to charity reduced the tax levy from 40% to 36%.

If you do decide to leave a charitable legacy, make sure you get the name of the charity right. Many have similar names and are easily confused. Include the charity’s address along with their registered number. To find a charity’s details, look on the Charity Commission websites – for England and Wales http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk and for Scotland http://www.oscr.org.uk.

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