Can You Disinherit Your Children?

You might have heard about the case of Heather Ilot, who was awarded £164,000 from her mother’s estate after a decade of court battles even though the mother had written her out of her Will. There was much debate about this case in the news in July 2015 when the final decision was made that this could be the end of testamentary freedom, i.e. the freedom to choose who your money goes to after your death. This is not the case. In this specific case, there were particular circumstances that led to the money being awarded to the daughter by
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Getting Married? What Happens to Your Will? – The “In Contemplation of Marriage” Clause

You have made your Will and have decided how much each of your children will receive in the event of your death and have also favourably considered a few friends and some charitable causes. And then you decide to get remarried. What happens to your Will? The general rule is, that when you get married your Will becomes invalid. This means that should you die you are intestate, i.e. without a Will and only the rules set out by the government will apply to your estate. These rules are very strict and will only pass your assets on to blood
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Planning on Setting Up Lasting Powers of Attorney? There are New Forms

In a previous article we have discussed why someone would want to set up Lasting Powers of Attorney as well as a few basic types of LPAs. (What is a Lasting Power of Attorney and why do I need one). We have also discussed the importance of LPAs for Business in the article Business Lasting Powers of Attorney – could your business run without you? In July 2015, the Office of the Public Guardian, who deal with Lasting Powers of Attorney, introduced new forms to replace the existing forms, which were seen as difficult to use. The old forms could
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Flexible Life Interest Trust – An Ideal Solution for Blended Families

A Flexible Life Interest Trust is very useful for blended families, where the testator is concerned about their partner leaving assets to future children or step-children after their death. It can also be used to potentially reduce inheritance tax. As it is New Year and we all need cheering up – here is a fairy story to illustrate my point: Snow White’s father (Mr White?) realises he made a mistake by marrying his second wife. He wants her to be comfortable after his death, but does not want her to inherit his £5million estate. In his Will, he places all
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Charles Dickens’ Will and Funeral Plan – His Final Plot

Death is said to be the great leveller – even when it comes to the paperwork. The private life of Charles Dickens would have made the perfect plot for one of his own stories. His novels made him famous around the world, and he created some of the greatest characters of all time – including one of the most familiar fictional Christmas characters – Ebenezer Scrooge. Dickens died aged 58 in 1869, a very wealthy man – his estate worth the equivalent of £50 million pounds today. He left money to all 9 of his surviving children. He then writes
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What if a Beneficiary Doesn’t Want His Share? – Consider a Post Death Variation of a Will

If you have ever wondered whether you have to accept something that has been left to you in a Will, the answer is no, you don’t. You can use a tool call a Deed of Variation. A variation can be used to pass on property, cash, stocks/shares or a beneficial interest in a trust. A Deed of Variation is a document that is set up by a beneficiary if they want to pass on their share of the inheritance to someone else. This can either be another named party in the Will, or someone completely different. There are different reasons
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What happens to your business when you’re gone? – Business Succession Planning

At the beginning of 2015 there were an estimated 5.3 million small or medium sized businesses in the UK. It is therefore very important that business owners create an effective Business Succession Plan to protect their business and decide what happens to their business in the event of their death or should they no longer be able to manage their own affairs. Business Wills For business owners a simple Will is probably not sufficient. In that case, a more comprehensive Business Will is more appropriate in dealing with their specific business assets. A business owner may wish to appoint separate
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What Happens When You Die Without a Will

Dying without a Will, also known as intestacy, can be a difficult and costly process. Your Will is a legally binding document and making a Will ensures that you control where your assets go when you die. Without a Will, the courts have to be involved and this is lengthy as well as costly. The Society of Will Writers, of which I am a member have put together this useful flowchart which illustrates very clearly what happens in the event of a person dying without a Will. ˇ The term “children” includes illegitimate and adopted children, but not step-children. °
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The Protective Property Trust – Protect your assets for your children

Imagine the following family situation: Fred and Wilma, a happily married couple, one daughter, Pebbles. They want to make mirror Wills leaving all to their daughter Pebbles when they die. However, I point out to them that, if Fred dies young, Wilma could fall in love with (say) Barney, who has a son Bam Bam. She could change her Will to dilute Pebbles’ share. A similar situation could arise if Wilma died young. What would be the solution? A Protective Property Trust. Here is how it works A Protective Property Trust is a Trust that is put into the Wills of a couple so
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Bizarre Requests from Beyond the Grave

Most of us want to leave our assets to our children and other loved ones and in most cases these consist of a house (with contents), some money, maybe some jewellery, pictures or works of art. But there are some people who take “leaving things to your loved ones” to a whole new level. Here is a selection of some of the strangest bequests I have come across while doing some research on the topic. Marie Curie – When she died in 1934, a gram of pure radium, originally received as a gift from the women of America, was her
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Business Lasting Powers of Attorney – could your business run without you?

Are you a freelancer, sole trader or small business owner? If yes, have you thought about what would happen if you were suddenly not able to make decisions for the day-to-day running of your business, say through accident or severe illness? Many small business owners believe that their spouse or employees could simply take over until the crisis has passed but without a Lasting Power of Attorney in place this would not be possible. A Business Lasting Power of Attorney or Business LPA is a legal document in which you can nominate between 1 and 4 people to have the
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Who will raise your children if you die before they are 18?

Have you ever considered who will look after your children if you die while they’re still under age? Who will make sure they are raised the way you would wish and only has their best interests at heart? Many people don’t want to think about these issues as they are considered morbid and negative thinking. But it is really important to be prepared should the worst happen. It is not enough to simply make the decision and discuss it with your family. You need to make it legally binding by including it in your Will. Should you die without a
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What is a Trust and do I need one?

A Trust is a legal arrangement in which a person (the Settlor) transfers the ownership of some of his or her assets to one or more Trustees, who manage the assets on behalf of one or more Beneficiaries (who will receive the assets or income). There are many reasons why this would be done: The Beneficiary is under age and therefore too young to handle their own affairs The Beneficiary has limited mental capacity to be able to handle their own affairs To control and protect family assets To pass on assets while you’re still alive To protect family’s assets
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Have you considered a Funeral Plan?

All through human history people have been planning what to do with their remains once they have died. From following ancient traditions to unusual and quirky funeral ideas, the list is endless. Going back thousands of years, Egyptians built large burial chambers to prepare for their afterlife, whereas Vikings prepared their traditional longboats for a burning at sea. Pirates were said to have gold earrings which would cover the cost of their funeral. Nowadays people want to decide on whether they are buried or cremated, where they are buried or what happens to the ashes as well as how elaborate
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Changes to Inheritance Tax in the 2015 Budget

Inheritance Tax is charged on the transfer of property passing on death (chargeable transfers) subject to various exemptions and reliefs, notably for certain business and agricultural property. It is also levied on certain lifetime gifts. In the UK, death taxes were first introduced in 1796 to finance the war against Napoleon, but inheritance tax as we know it was implemented in 1986 and has gone through several changes since then. The current situation is that inheritance tax is not payable on the first £325,000 of your estate when you die.  It is then payable at 40% of everything above that
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