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      Nearly 60% of Adults in the UK Do Not Have a Will

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      A new survey has revealed that 60% of adults in the UK are leaving themselves in the hand of intestacy laws as they do not have a will in place.

      One in four people aged over 55 do not have a will in place, which is down from the previous year. The age group that were least likely to have a will in place were the 18 – 34 age group, with ‘not being wealthy enough’ the most common reason given for not having arranged a will. But with the average homeowner has £214,000 worth of property up from £205,000 in 2015, many are underestimating their true financial wealth.

      Those in the North West of England and London were most likely to not have a will in place at 67% and 64% respectively, this despite higher average property prices in London making a will essential for home owners.

      Having a will in place prevents money, or other assets including property, being distributed under intestacy rules. At Glazer Delmar our team are accessible and approachable, we get a true understanding of your circumstances. Book an appointment to see our team today, Saturday appointments are available.

      An Article by Cheryl Thompson
      Private Client Solicitor

      I am the Head of the Wills and Probate Department at Glazer Delmar. I joined the firm in March 2016, having previously practised for twelve years at a firm in Beckenham and eighteen months at a firm in Surrey. Each change of location has brought with it an acclimatisation period during which I have familiarised myself with the particular demographic of the local area with a view to ensuring that the needs of the community I am serving are fully met by my department.

      Whilst, I have embraced life in East Dulwich and am delighted to be here I have very quickly become aware of the need to drive home the message about the importance of having a validly executed Will in place. When you have worked for forty years or more, to acquire a home and build a nest egg to provide financial security for yourself and your loved ones, you deserve the certainty of knowing that those you wish to benefit from your endeavours will do so. You should also exercise your freedom to take advice to ensure that your affairs are arranged as tax efficiently as possible so that in the event of your death the Exchequer receives only the Inheritance tax your estate should bear rather than the Inheritance tax your estate will bear because you were uninformed and did not exercise choices which are available to you. Many people are unaware that tax planning is an intrinsic part of the Will making process.

      If my message so far isn’t a strong enough rallying cry for action on your part, perhaps a further motivating consideration is that when Inheritance tax bites the rate of tax payable is a massive 40% of your chargeable estate.

      During the 1980’s through to the early 1990’s (prior to entering private practice) I worked for HM Revenue & Customs Inheritance Tax Office. I am therefore very aware that, where once Inheritance tax was payable primarily by the privileged and those with a very comfortable financial cushion, today as a result of property price inflation, particularly in the South East, the tax has a far reaching impact on us all.

      The long arm of Intestacy

      When an individual dies without making a Will their estate is distributed in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy. I will not set out the Intestacy Rules in this article but I will pose this question:

      ‘When you started your working life, if asked who you would select to decide how and to whom your assets are to be divided and distributed in the event of your death, would you have chosen the Government ?’

      If, the answer to the question above is ‘No’, please read on.

      We live in a society where individuals enjoy greater social freedoms than previously. A by product of this is that our personal concept of ‘family’ may be very unique and individual. It is not possible for Statute to address our personal uniqueness and individuality, which means that a statute based solution to dealing with your estate on death will in all probability create problems and possibly discord.

      Situations I routinely encounter are:

      • An estate comprising a property valued in the region of £1 million, nominal liquid assets with a number of beneficiaries entitled to part of the estate under the Rules of Intestacy.

      Problems which arise in connection with the above:

      How will the Inheritance tax be paid ?
      What if the property is the home of one of the beneficiaries?
      What rights if any does the resident beneficiary have ?
      Who will act as the Administrator of the Estate ?
      What happens if there are a number of beneficiaries with an equal right to act as Administrator and they do not get on ?

      •  An estate where the Spouse/Civil Partner who dies first has all assets of value registered in their sole name.

      Problems which arise in connection with the above:

      Will the provision for the surviving Spouse/Civil Partner under the Rules of Intestacy be sufficient for the surviving Spouse/Civil Partner’s needs ?
      Did the first to die have children from a previous relationship who will be entitled to part of the estate under the Rules of Intestacy ?
      What action can the surviving Spouse/Civil Partner take to remedy their situation if the provision under the Rules of Intestacy is insufficient ?
      How much will the litigation on behalf of the surviving Spouse/Civil Partner cost and where does the money to pay the costs come from ?

      • An estate where one of an unmarried couple with children dies

      Problems which arise in connection with the above:

      As the Rules of Intestacy do not recognise relationships other than Marriage and Civil Partnership, the beneficiaries under the Rules of Intestacy will be the children.

      What are the remedies available to the surviving partner ?
      How much will the litigation cost?
      Are the costs payable from the estate?
      Who ‘wins’ here ?

      My aim with this article is not to cause alarm but to be thought provoking and emphasise the importance of making a Will and organising your personal affairs.

      I am pleased to advise you that the Private Client Department at Glazer Delmar has two specialist practitioners, myself and my colleague Charlotte Mandy and that we are both happy to provide you with advice tailored to your particular circumstances in respect of this area of law.

      Cheryl Thompson Direct Dial: 020 8613 5118
      Charlotte Mandy Direct Dial:   020 8613 5110

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