When simple isn’t best

When discussing wills with clients, it is common to hear them say that they want to ‘keep things simple’. This is an understandable aim and, where possible, desirable.

However, people’s lives are increasingly complex and it is common to see situations where a lack of advance planning or inadequate advice leads to outcomes that everyone would wish to avoid.

These outcomes include beneficiaries:

  • losing their entitlement to means-tested benefits and having to spend their inheritance on day to day essentials
  • finding that an untimely inheritance results in a windfall for an estranged spouse on divorce
  • becoming involved in court proceedings over a post-death dispute
  • seeing their inheritance spent on care fees for a surviving parent, and/or
  • facing a larger inheritance tax liability than necessary

In appropriate cases trusts can be used – whether within wills or, less commonly, created during a person’s lifetime – to avoid such outcomes. Whilst many people think of trusts as complex and expensive, they needn’t be either and can result in a significant overall financial benefit to the beneficiaries concerned.

Given that your will disposes of your entire wealth on your death, obtaining professional advice is always a sensible step. With the use of Deeds of Variation – which can be used in certain circumstances to redirect assets in order to save tax or resolve disputes – under review by the government, getting it right in advance takes on even greater importance.

This will never be more true than when you know that there are existing issues – including second marriages, an estrangement within the family, a beneficiary with a rocky marriage, financial or addiction problems or facing long-term care etc. – which increase the possibility of post-death problems.

For more information, please contact me on: 01245 322111 or: TSteele@palmerslaw.co.uk

Tim Steele
Partner