Martin Lewis gives advice on investing inheritance
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Inheritance tax (IHT) is usually charged on the estate of someone who has died and is passing on their assets, so long as the total value of the estate is over £325,000. Where IHT is due, it is usually levied at 40 percent.
IHT costs can be high and as such, financial and estate planners regularly promote the use of Wills, which can limit what is paid.
However, new research showed the creation of Wills could create their own problems among family members.
Ramsdens Solicitors recently conducted a survey of more than 1,100 British people who were questioned about their thoughts on inheritance and wills.
The results of this survey showed four percent of adults in the UK – equivalent to 29 million people – would turn on their family and friends and take legal action against them if they felt they had been “snubbed by a loved one’s Will.”
The survey also found 64 percent would be likely to challenge the contents of a partner’s will if they felt wrongfully excluded, compared to 56 percent for a parent’s will and 41 percent for any other loved one.
Nazia Nawaz, the Head of Contentious Probate at Ramsdens Solicitors, commented on these results.
She said: “Recent data has shown that the risk of inheritance battles has increased considerably amid the pandemic, and the events of the last 12 months should act as a warning that decisions about making a will or about making plans for the future, should not be delayed at all.”
Will issues of this kind were also examined by Roger Peacock, a Legal Counsel at ZEDRA, who examined the estate issues facing the late George Michael.
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Roger explained: “The claim on Wham! star and singer George Michael’s estate by Kenny Goss has been widely reported in the UK media. It demonstrates how the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 enables select family members and dependants to claim on an estate, even if the deceased made a decision not to include them in their Will.
“A claim can be made up to six months after a Grant of Representation is issued for an estate. The Grant of Representation is a court sealed document issued by the High Court and provides the Personal Representative/s of an estate with the legal right to administer the estate.
“In some exceptional circumstances, the time limit in respect of claims made after the Grant of Representation is received may be extended, giving more time for claims to be brought against an estate.
“No provision was made for George Michael’s ex-partner, Kenny Goss, in his Will. Consequently, Kenny lodged a claim under the Act to receive monthly payments from George’s estate. The claim was made on the grounds that George had supported his ex-partner financially during his lifetime. Kenny argued that he had been maintained by George up until his death, despite them not having been in a relationship for several years.”
Roger concluded by examining what happened with this specific case and what should be done to avoid similar predicaments.
He said: “After a long legal battle, it appears that an undisclosed settlement from George’s estate was agreed with Kenny.
“This scenario highlights the importance of obtaining professional advice when making a Will and having it professionally drafted.
“Professional Will Drafters will take the time to understand your unique personal circumstances and make you aware of any potential implications regarding the terms of your Will and would fully document your wishes and the reasons why particular family members or dependants have been omitted.
“They may also recommend that you create a separate document confirming your decisions, which can be evidenced in Court to help your estate defend any claim.
“This would reduce the likelihood of an individual who you did not wish to make provision for successfully making a claim on your estate.”
On top of professional advice, families can seek help from the Money Advice Service.
The public advisory body has wide ranging guidance on Wills but it advises people to go through the following step by step process:
- Make a list of who you want to benefit from your estate
- Write down your assets and roughly what they’re worth
- Think about how you want to split your money and property when making your will
- Check if you’ll have to pay inheritance tax
- Think about protecting your beneficiaries
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