Not the first person you would think needs a Will and Estate planning. With limited assets you may think you don’t need a Will. But think forward to your funeral someone this age dying is going to be a major trauma to your family, most probably due to a accident, the very last thing your parents would ever have thought of would be your funeral, they may have pictured your wedding or their first grandchild but your funeral! Your Mum thinks you wanted a burial, your Dad thinks it’s a cremation, both because of very casual remarks you made.
Dad gives in as he does not want to cause your distraught Mum further upset, but he has doubts, where should the burial be he thinks at the same cemetery as your grandparents; your Mum wants the local one, she plans to visit every day. The service, Dad wants a traditional one; Mum thinks you want everyone to wear football shirts.
What if you did not die in this accident you are in a coma the doctors tell your parents your body is still functioning but your brain is dead. Your Mum wants to keep you alive for as long as possible even though there is no sign of life. Your Dad thinks the machines should be turned off but does not want to upset your Mum.
An Advanced Directive Trust “Living Will” would give your clear instructions taking this burden off your parents and family.
Not Married but in a relationship.
With no will your parents would inherit your estate, the flat you bought together could now be half owned by them or may be totally owned by them, your partner is homeless or dependent on the goodwill of your parents. But you have your life cover problem solved. With no Will and the policy not in trust this goes to your parents. See Jill Dando story. Even though you planned to marry and share everything your partner gets nothing.
The same scenario as in not married but your partners share goes to your child who cannot gain control until aged 18. What if your partner then died? Who has control of your child? Is it her parents your parents or the local social services. Even with two sets of Grandparents willing to take your child social services Grandparents would have to fight for control, with no direction from you as there is no will nominating guardians in a will gives clear direction.
Not only do the issues faced by a Single person have to be faced, there is the added complication of your child. With no Will nominating a guardian the court will decided, it will be up to your family to put forward a very strong case against your child being put into care. Who knows your family and friends best to decide, you or a court, there is also the added complication of the Child’s other parent or their family being involved, even if your child eventually end up where you would have wished they will have had to stay with foster parents or in a children’s home until the committees reached a conclusion.
If you have a spouse, or civil partner, and do not have children, but leave parents, siblings, or nieces and nephews, your partner will be entitled to at least the first £450,000 and all your personal possessions, plus half of the rest. Then, either your parents, siblings, or nieces and nephews will be entitled to the other half.
If you have a spouse, or civil partner and children, your spouse or civil partner will inherit all of your personal possessions and at least the first £250,000 of your estate. The rules around how anything over £250,000 is divided up are complex, and the person dealing with your estate would need to take professional advice.
For public companies, a transfer of shares to your spouse (or any other beneficiary who is over 18) will invariably be allowed. Private companies’ articles will generally be more restrictive – and, if the shareholders have entered into a shareholders’ agreement, it may also regulate what you are allowed to do with your shares. If shares cannot be transferred to your spouse, or other beneficiary, because of these restrictions, they usually become entitled to the cash equivalent instead, unless your will says the gift lapses in those circumstances.
In addition to the usual benefits of a Will, many families are complex, with no Will in place the rules of intestacy apply. These do not recognises stepchildren, step parents, partners, or partner’s children. (they do recognise adopted children)
If you are separated your spouse still inherits. If you previously had a Will but are now divorced, that Will is still valid except your spouse is treated as if they had died. Their share passes on to the next in line as laid out in the Will which may not be what your new circumstances requires.
If you were previously married then divorced and your failed change your Will your ex-spouse could still claim that as you never changed your Will you still wanted them to inherit.
Your will remains valid but any provision in favour of your former spouse ceases to apply once the divorce is finalised. When a Decree Absolute of divorce is made by the Court the former husband or wife loses all rights on an intestacy and also any rights to benefit under any existing Will. In addition, their appointment as executor will cease to be valid.
Bear in mind that your spouse remains a beneficiary until the ‘decree absolute’ has been granted – so you might want to draw up a new will straight away if you are in the process of divorcing. Conversely, a former spouse may still be entitled to make a claim against your estate if they are in financial need or were financially dependent on you, even if you have excluded them from your Will.
As well as the usual reasons for a Will, you may now be grandparents or even great grandparents. It may well be that you do not simply want your children to inherit your whole estate and your grandchildren have to wait for their parents to die to receive a inheritance, you may want to distribute a share of your estate not only to your children but to your grandchildren who may receive more benefit from your inheritance when starting out independently in life. It is possible to place this inheritance in a trust so they receive their inheritance at a certain age or event.
With councils now taking possession or putting a charge against the property to fund care homes. Provision should be made to protect against this event a Will is the first step but there are Trusts available that can help protect your property and assets in this event.
Before going in to a care home a Will should be in place it will most probably be too late to put estate planning in place. Ideally estate planning should be arranged 8 years prior to being assessed for care home charges, don’t leave it too late!!!
If there are any terms that you do not fully understand refer to the glossary