It’s Free Wills Month again - having one is essential so don’t waste time without it
Free Wills Month allows anyone over the age of 55 to have a will drafted by a solicitor, free of charge.
The campaign, run in association with a range of leading UK charities is designed to encourage older people to make sure they have a will in place that accurately reflects their wishes.
More than a quarter of over 55s do not have a will in place according to research from wealth management firm Tilney. More widely among the public, around 58% do not according to Tilney’s research.
The most common reason why people say they don’t have one is simply that they “haven’t gotten around to it.”
Ian Dyall, head of estate planning at Tilney, comments: “There seems to be the perception that your estate will automatically go to whom you want upon your death. This is far from the truth.
“A worrying number of people have not made a will seemingly out of pure apathy and even when they have one, many do not review these regularly.
“If you do not leave a will, you simply leave problems for your loved ones including delays and confusions as to where you want your money to go and potentially someone who you would not wish to receive your assets will land a windfall.
“There are also instances where the windfall could cause a problem, such as an elderly parent who has been gifting money to avoid inheritance tax.”
To sign up for a free will go to freewillsmonth.org.uk and enter your details. You’ll then be matched with participating charities and solicitors in your area.
Four financial considerations when planning your will
Tilney has four important considerations to think about when planning your will and other elements of legal protection for your estate:
1. The importance of a will
Having a will in place will help your loved ones know what you want to happen to your money and possessions after you die. Alongside a Lasting Power of Attorney, it can play an important part in making sure your wishes are carried out.
If, for example, you don’t have a will and are diagnosed with dementia, you may still be able to make one if you can understand and make decisions about your will.
2. Do you have a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney is an important legal document giving someone permission to manage your money if you can’t or don’t want to.
If you have an accident or develop an illness – such as dementia – and don’t have one, it’s difficult for those around you to deal with your finances.
3. Generation to generation
So called ‘inter-generational planning’ can help ensure wealth is successfully passed from one generation to the next. It involves your financial planner working closely with you and your beneficiaries to ensure a consistency in your family financial planning and a smooth transfer of your wealth, in line with your wishes.
This gives you the peace of mind that your money will end up in the right hands after you’re gone – and it can also help you to save tax.
4. Avoiding a large tax bill
Another reason to plan properly is to ensure you don’t end up leaving a bigger tax bill than is necessary. Inheritance Tax has been described as a voluntary tax because there are so many ways to reduce the amount that must be paid, but you need to plan and work with your beneficiaries to do it successfully.
If you fail to act or leave it too late, you could end up passing more money to the taxman than to the children in your life.