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Revealed: 5 simple mistakes to avoid when putting your will in place

Category: News
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A valid will is the best way to ensure your wishes are known upon death, yet more than half of UK adults (56%) don’t have one in place. That equates to 29.6 million people. Of those yet to get a will, research suggests that 47% see the value in one, but haven’t got round to it.

There are many important reasons to put a will in place and to ensure it is up to date.

Here are five mistakes you could be making with your will, and how to rectify them.

1. Putting it off because you think it can wait

While 56% of Brits don’t have a will, for those between 18 and 34 the figure rises to 79%. And yet the unexpected can strike at any time.

Putting a will in place doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. If it’s been on your to-do list for some time, why not make this the month you finally tick it off?

While you’re at it, you might also consider putting a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place. This legal document is available to anyone aged 18 and over and allows you to appoint trusted people to look after your affairs if you are no longer able.

As with a will, making the necessary arrangements now could help your loved ones avoid additional expenses and stress at a difficult time.

2. Not communicating the contents to loved ones

Government figures back in 2015, reported by the BBC, confirmed that contested wills were on the rise. Increasingly complex family dynamics were thought to be at least partially responsible. The coronavirus pandemic increased disputes further.

In July 2021, Which? reported a rise in contested wills at one UK law firm of 111% between October 2020 to April 2021.

The key to avoiding disputes is communication.

Be sure that you take the necessary time to think carefully about your wishes, and then be sure to convey them too. Conversations about mortality aren’t always easy but honest discussions will make your wishes clear. In turn, this should prevent issues after your death.

Also, be sure that you leave details for where your will can be found and the solicitor to contact.

3. Forgetting to keep it updated

A will is the best way to make your wishes known but to do that successfully, you must keep it up to date.

Life milestones like births, deaths, and marriages could have a huge influence on how you want your estate divided. Accidentally omitting, or forgetting to remove people from your will, could cause tension after you are gone.

With the nil-rate and residence nil-rate bands frozen, increases in the value of your home and investments could have an impact on your estate planning. We can help you manage your wealth and any potential inheritance tax-efficiently, but be sure to keep your will in mind too.

4. Expecting your non-married partner to automatically inherit

Co-habiting is on the rise in the UK but an unmarried partner won’t have the same rights on death as a spouse or civil partner.

If you die without a will, known as dying “intestate”, the laws of intestacy will dictate where your money goes. Under these rules, only blood relatives, spouses, and civil partners will inherit.

Without a will in place, your partner’s home could be taken away from them, or ownership could become shared.

While 46% of those surveyed by the National Centre for Social Research back in 2019 thought that unmarried couples who lived together had the same rights as married couples, this is not the case – even when children are involved.

If you want your unmarried partner or their children to inherit, you need to put a will in place now.

5. Forgetting to use an “expression of wish” form to choose your pension beneficiary

Your pension is a valuable part of your tax-efficient estate planning. This is because unused pension funds can be passed onto a chosen beneficiary on death, tax-free in some circumstances.

If you die before age 75, an unused pension pot can usually be passed to your chosen beneficiary tax-free. If you die after age 75, any unused funds can still be passed on but there will be tax to pay at the highest rate of tax your beneficiary pays.

Your pension beneficiary isn’t nominated via your will. You’ll need to contact your scheme provider and complete an expression of wish form.

If you haven’t done this yet, you’re not alone. Recent research from Canada Life has found that nearly three-quarters (72%) of UK adults have not completed the form and have no beneficiary listed.

Contact your scheme provider and get this updated to ensure the right person receives your unused pension on death.

Get in touch

Hartsfield Planning can help you understand the value of your estate and the most tax-efficient way to plan for leaving an inheritance. It’s crucial, though, that you put a will in place and communicate your wishes to loved ones.

If you’d like to discuss any aspect of your long-term plans or the role of your pensions in estate planning, get in touch and find out how our team of expert planners can help.

Please note

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate estate planning, tax planning or will writing.

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