Tag: will

October 1, 2021

Getting your Paperwork Organised

As Autumn starts, many of us make a resolution to get organised in the house and tidy up the garden.  There is something about a new academic year, the weather changing and holiday season coming to an end that spurs us into action.  It is also a good time to sort out paperwork. This gives us  a real sense of achievement and peace of mind. 

Here are some checklists that will help you get your legal and financial affairs in order. These tasks don’t have to be tackled in one go. If you put these steps in place gradually, you won’t have to worry about them again. It is like spring-cleaning one room at a time. They are also a starting point if you are helping an elderly relative to get organised.

To help a family member, financial advisor, will draftsman or attorneys (if you have a Power of Attorney) get up to speed quickly:

  • Draw up an asset schedule.
  • Make a list of your online passwords for bank accounts, building society accounts, utility providers, household, building and motor insurers and your online shopping provider.
  • If you don’t contact these organisations online – make a list of their names, addresses and phone numbers.
  • Put your list in a safe, secure place and tell a family member/friend where these details are stored in your home.

For family members/ a close trustworthy friend (if family are too far away):

  • Deliver a copy of your front door key to them.
  • Explain how to disarm your house alarm.
  • Make a key list of names, phone numbers and email addresses for your employer, GP surgery, dentist, solicitor, accountant, optician, garage, insurance providers, financial advisor, vet.
  • Tell them where the above key list can be found.
  • Tell them where important documents are stored e.g. your Will, power of attorney documents, insurance schedules, the deeds of your house or business premises, original share certificates.
  • Let them know the combination for your home safe if you have one.

Think about your financial affairs and discuss them with your family:

  • Do you have a Will? If so, is it still tax efficient? Does it reflect your current wishes?
  • Who do you want to appoint as your “executors”? These are the people who pay debts, any tax liability, gather in, manage and distribute your estate after your death.
  • Ask them if they are happy to act for you?
  • If you have minor children, who should act as their guardian if you and their other parent have both died?
  • Ask them if they are happy to step in and look after your children?
  • Do you want to place any protection over your assets after your death, for example using one or more trusts?
  • Is it prudent to gift assets now whilst their open market values have fallen?
  • Do you have a Power of Attorney? If not – this is a good time to put one in place.

If you would like help with Wills, LPAs or estate planning please get in touch via email or the contact form on our website.

Please get in touch via email or the contact form on my website.

June 10, 2020

Top reasons why people don’t make Wills – Part Two

I recently asked for feedback about why many people in the 25 to 40 age group don’t make Wills. This is the second blog in which I am going to demonstrate what can happen when someone doesn’t make a Will for the reasons set out in that feedback. (See the first blog here).

Number Two: “I don’t have anything valuable enough to justify the cost of making a Will.”

This blog deals with the situation where someone does not think that they have enough money or belongings to justify the expense of making a Will. It demonstrates the differences between what can happen when someone dies “intestate” which means without a Will or “testate” – with a Will.

The best way to demonstrate this is to show you how the same set of facts could play out – firstly without a Will and secondly with a Will. If you remember a 1998 film called ‘Sliding Doors’, you will get the idea.  The film followed two storylines. In the first one, the female lead caught an Underground train and arrived home to discover her partner was having an affair, with all the consequences that flowed from that scenario. In the second alternative storyline, she missed the train by seconds and arrived home after her partner’s lover had left.

The film wasn’t about Wills, but it did demonstrate how something as simple as missing a train could radically alter an outcome.  Likewise, something as simple as not making a Will can have serious unintended consequences.

The Facts

The people in the story below are imaginary but this situation could easily happen. The cast of characters is as follows:

  • Jane – the main character
  • John – her partner
  • Emma – her best friend
  • Billy – Emma’s son who has Down’s Syndrome
  • Gran – Jane’s paternal grandmother (who passed away before the story starts)
  • Peter – Jane’s Dad
  • Kathy – Jane’ s Mum
  • Gordon – Jane’s Stepdad
  • Louise – Jane’s stepsister

Jane is thirty years old. She lives in Greater London and commutes into the City. She earns a good salary but most of her income goes on rent, commuting, holidays and socialising. She has managed to save £5,000. John has been her partner for five years. They are planning to buy a flat together.

Jane and her best friend Emma are like sisters.  They see each other very week and text every other day.  Emma is a single Mum with a son called Billy, who has Downs Syndrome. Jane and Billy are very fond of each other.  In her spare time, Jane volunteers for MENCAP, a charity that helps people with learning disabilities.

Jane thinks of herself as an only child. Her parents Peter and Kathy divorced when she was 9. Kathy left Jane with Peter and married Gordon. Kathy and Gordon have a daughter called Louise aged 16.  Peter has a chequered employment record, has never re-married and has a gambling addiction.  Jane loves her Dad but is exasperated by him.

Jane is estranged from her Mum and can’t stand Gordon or Louise following difficult contact visits during her teens. Her parents have nothing to do with one another.

Jane has inherited £30,000 from her much-loved ‘Gran’, her father’s mother who helped to bring her up. She plans to use the money for the deposit on the flat.  She has a few items of jewellery including a valuable ring left to her by Gran. Gran never forgave Kathy for leaving Peter and Jane.

Jane doesn’t think that she needs a Will. She believes that she only owns 3 things of value, the ring, the £5,000 deposit money and the £30,000 inheritance. Besides – she is only 30.  Wills are for old people.

Situation A – Jane dies Intestate (without a Will).

Tragically, Jane is killed in an accident.  As Jane didn’t make a Will, there are no Executors to sort out what should happen immediately after her death. Therefore, the court has to appoint ‘Administrators’ under a Grant of Administration.

The only people who are eligible to apply to the court to act as Administrators are a spouse (husband, wife or civil partner), adult child or next of kin of the deceased – in this case Jane’s parents who had an acrimonious divorce and have had no contact of any kind for the last 14 years.

An Executor’s authority to sort out an estate starts from right from the date of death, but an Administrator’s authority only begins from the date of the court order – the Grant of Administration. Jane’s parents must apply to the Probate Court for a Grant of Administration. There is a delay before the Grant is made.

Jane’s parents cannot even agree whether she should have a burial or a cremation. John and Emma are not next of kin.  Even though they know what Jane would have wanted, they are unable to persuade her parents of this.

As Jane did not make a Will, her ‘estate’ will pass to Peter and Kathy in equal shares under the Intestacy Rules.  Peter wants to give small money gifts to John and Billy and let Emma have Gran’s ring.  Kathy says he can make gifts out of his half share and wants the ring for Louise.

Peter then becomes furious. He argues that he should have all the £35,000 as he is out of work and Kathy and Gordon are well off.   He states that most of the money was Gran’s and there is no way Kathy is getting her hands on it – or his mother’s ring. Kathy doesn’t see why he should have £35,000 to ‘give to the bookies’.  All of this intensifies the grief and stress for John, Emma and Billy.

As Jane’s parents cannot work together, they cannot administer the estate competently.  The court steps in to appoint new Administrators. The costs involved in this reduce the amount of money left in Jane’s estate significantly – money that Jane would have wanted to give to John, Emma and Billy – if only she had realised that this would happen.

Situation B – Jane dies having made a Will.

Jane has made a Will.  As her assets are modest and her wishes are straightforward, it is a simple inexpensive process. She appoints John and Emma to be her executors.  They have authority to take charge of her assets right from the date of her death. She leaves instructions in the Will that she would like to have a sustainable funeral and gives clear details of the company to use.

Jane leaves Gran’s ring and a gift of £5,000 to Emma; £5,000 to Billy to be invested until he is 21 and £20,000 to John.  She also leaves £5,000 to MENCAP to assist their charitable aims.

Jane’s parents are not involved in the decision-making in any way. They attend her funeral, but they are not in charge of it.  They have no claim on her estate of any kind. As Jane’s wishes are clearly set out and easy to follow, there is no delay in sorting out her estate in the way that she intended.

Making a Will ensures that: –

  1. Even if you don’t have a lot of money or valuable possessions, you can make gifts to the people who mean the most to you and would really appreciate them.
  2. You can choose who benefits and who doesn’t – rather than an inflexible set of Intestacy Rules.
  3. You can give items of sentimental value to the people that you love. This will comfort them and remind them of you.
  4. You can leave money to a cause or charity that you believe in.
  5. Your estate will be wound up more quickly and efficiently than if you die without a Will.
  6. You can give clear instructions which will avoid arguments between your relatives and reduce stress for your loved ones when they are grieving for you.

Don’t be caught out

Making a Will is a necessity not a luxury.  Take this essential step to safeguard the people you love and ensure that your wishes are carried out. It doesn’t cost a fortune.  Don’t be caught out.

June 3, 2020

Top reasons why people don’t make a will

I recently asked for feedback about why many people in the 25 to 40 age group don’t make Wills. I received some very helpful replies. This is the first in a series of blogs demonstrating why a Will is not a luxury but a necessity. In each blog, I am going to demonstrate what can happen when someone doesn’t make a Will for one of the reasons given in the feedback. The stories will scare you and I don’t apologise for that.

Number One: “I have left instructions for my relatives. I know that they will do the right thing.”

One reason that people under the age of 40 don’t make Wills is because they trust their relatives to “do the right thing.” They write down their wishes and tell their families what they would like to happen. This is dangerous because a wish list does not have the force of law. If you live in England and Wales and don’t make a Will, your assets will pass under an inflexible system called the Intestacy Rules. If your family don’t respect your wishes, your partner may have to go to court to make an application for maintenance.

Let’s look at 4 different but equally frightening scenarios. I represented the wife in Situation A when I specialised in inheritance disputes. The names have been changed to preserve confidentiality. Situations B, C and D are variations on A that could easily happen.

Situation A

Alex and Beth had been married for 10 years. They had two children, Charlie aged 9 and Daisy aged 5. Alex was 38, had a well-paid job and had inherited a large sum of money from his grandparents. They owned their house in joint names but in 50/50 shares. This was to protect a deposit of £25,000, provided by Alex’s wealthy parents. Beth was 37 and worked part-time from home, fitting her work around the children. Beth fell out badly with Alex’s parents, shortly before Alex was killed in an accident.

Alex had not made a Will but had left careful hand-written instructions for Beth and his parents, about what should happen if he died. He had not left any instructions about his children’s education, welfare, or his parents’ access to the children. He had written down that he was relying on his parents not to recall the £25,000 ‘gift’ if anything happened to him. He expected them to behave honourably.

As Alex didn’t have a Will, his assets passed according to the Intestacy Rules regardless of his wishes. Beth was entitled to receive his personal belongings, the sum of £250,000 and half of everything else that he owned. The other half was to pass in equal shares to Charlie and Daisy. A trust was needed to manage the funds until the children were 18. Alex’s parents saw no reason why Beth should not downsize and repay their £25,000.

They also saw no reason why they should not manage ‘Alex’s money’ until their grandchildren came of age and applied for a shared residence order, (formerly known as custody), so that their grandchildren would live with them some of the time.

Alex had not nominated Beth as his beneficiary with his pension provider or his life insurance company. His share of the house, savings, ISAs and current account balance were in his sole name. Beth had to make an application for maintenance under a law called the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 – ‘The Inheritance Act’.

Beth was grieving and vulnerable. Her level of maintenance was eventually assessed by a court, many months after Alex’s death. The process was expensive, time consuming and emotionally exhausting. As his wife, she was entitled to a higher standard of maintenance than other types of applicants, but she was not awarded the whole of Alex’s estate.

Situation B

The nightmare set out in Situation A happens more often than you realise. Now imagine a worse variation. Alex and Beth are unmarried. The rest of the facts above are the same. Contrary to popular belief, a “common law wife” does not automatically inherit. Again, Alex’s assets will pass under the Intestacy Rules. He is unmarried but has children, so his assets will pass to Charlie and Daisy in equal shares. Some sort of trust will need to be put in place until the children are adults.

Alex’s parents see no reason why Beth should not downsize and repay their £25,000 once the dust has settled. They also see no reason why they should not manage Alex’s money until their grandchildren come of age. They are even more antagonistic as Beth was not their daughter-in-law.

Again, Beth will have to make an application for maintenance under the Inheritance Act. However, the court’s starting point, to assess her award from the estate, would be based on her need for maintenance only.

Situation C

Next assume that Alex and Beth are unmarried with no children. The Rules of Intestacy apply even more stringently. Alex’s parents would inherit all his assets. Again, Beth would have to make a claim for maintenance. It would be awarded at a lower level than if they had been married. Terrifying but true – even if she had been living with Alex for 40 years.

Situation D

Finally, suppose that Alex and Beth are Alexandra and Beth. They have been partners for 10 years. They have no children. They do not have a civil partnership. They have plans to get married but these are always being shelved because of Alex’s parents’ attitude. They gave Alex a deposit of £25,000 for her house when she was 25, before she came out. To say that their relationship with Beth is strained would be an understatement. Again, Beth would have to make a claim under the Inheritance Act for maintenance.

An Inheritance Act claim is eye-wateringly expensive. It is a complex area of law, requiring specialist solicitors and barristers. If the claim cannot be settled out of court, it proceeds to a hearing in front of a Judge, scheduled many months after a loved one has died. The Claimant has to find and fund legal representation at a time when they are grieving, and their financial situation is uncertain.

In all the above situations, not just Beth, but Charlie and Daisy and Alex’s parents need separate legal representation – three sets of lawyers with three sets of fees. A judge will have sympathy for Beth but is bound by previous court decisions called precedents and the scope of the Inheritance Act itself.

Don’t be caught out

Paget Will Writing can draft a Will swiftly and accurately taking account of your individual circumstances. A good Will draftsman provides advice to maximise tax allowances, offset inheritance tax and reminds you to give instructions to pension and insurance companies. Even complex Wills for couples, incorporating more than one trust cost a fraction of a defended Inheritance Act claim.

A Will is as vital as life or car insurance. Don’t be caught out.  Give us a call or send us an email to discuss and arrange your Will.

September 27, 2018

Should your 18 – 25-year-old children have Wills?

Imagine this scenario: –   A husband and wife have been married for nearly 30 years.  Let’s call them Mike and Jane*. They are in their late 50s.  Their marriage seems to be rock solid. Mike works abroad a good deal.  He is frequently away for weeks at a time.

Jane, an accountant by training, has been a home maker since the birth of their children.  She currently has a modestly paid, part-time job.  The couple are financially secure. Their mortgage is re-paid, and they have good pensions and decent savings. Their house is worth about £800,000.

The couple have three children; John aged 25, Laura aged 23 and Peter aged 18.  John has left home for good.  He has a decent job but no permanent partner or family of his own. Laura is single.  She has finished University and wants to do a post graduate course. Peter has taken A levels and is planning a “gap year” before University.

Jane has been a home-maker.  Like many women of her age, she has taken on responsibility for her elderly, widowed father, Geoff, after the death of her mother.  Geoff dies leaving a considerable sum of money to Jane. As she does not need the money from her father, she divides it equally between John, Laura and Peter.

Out of the blue, Mike tells Jane that he has met someone whilst working in the Philippines.  He wants a divorce so that he can marry her.  He is not interested in trying to save the marriage. This “someone” is a good 25 years younger than Jane.

Jane goes through a debilitating and humiliating divorce.  She must downsize from her comfortable home and look for a better paid job. Her children have left home and her father has died. Her whole life is turned upside down.

However – Jane is no fool.  She has given her children substantial sums of money from her father’s legacy to her. She knows that if her children were to die intestate, (without making a will), the statutory intestacy rules would apply. 

None of Jane’s children are married or in a civil partnership and none of them have children of their own.  Under the Intestacy Rules, if one of them dies, their “estate”, (which means all their worldly goods), would be split 50/50 between their parents; Jane and Mike. Therefore, half of Geoff’s money would go to Mike – a situation totally unacceptable to Jane.

For this reason, Jane persuades her three children to make basic wills. The children are the clients and their instructions are followed.  However, the resulting wills ensure that there is no risk of an unintentional windfall, of grandfather’s money, to their father.

Considering whether your children should have wills? Get in touch with me to discuss your circumstances.

*(This scenario is fictitious.  Any resemblance to real events and people is coincidental).

May 22, 2018

How to discuss estate planning with your parents painlessly

The real reason that you are asking them such personal questions.
Five talking points to focus a discussion around estate planning and power of attorney and make it practical not emotional.

  • About me and Paget Will Writing Ltd. I qualified as a solicitor in 1993. I worked in private practice for 20 years specialising in different areas of litigation. I ran contested estate disputes and Court of Protection actions for the last 15 years of that period. I set up Paget Will Writing Ltd in 2016 and have been trading for nearly 2 years.
  • Five things to talk about with ageing parents:
    • Legal Documents • D to the power of 3: Disorderly Document Deluge • Long term Care Planning • Living Arrangements • I’m asking because I care

Legal Documents

  • Will – A written document with your instructions as to how your assets should be distributed after death. If you die without one, the state will decide where your property and money goes.
  • Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Affairs –  A document that appoints a trusted person to take charge of your finances and other assets if you lose mental capacity.
  • Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare – A legal document that empowers a trusted person to make healthcare decisions if you lose capacity to do so yourself.
  • Advance Decision to refuse medical treatment – anticipatory refusal of specific medical treatment to be used should person lack capacity to give consent in the future.
  • Advance Statement – an expression of a person’s current wishes and feelings to be taken into account by a decision-maker in the future.

Disorderly Document Deluge

  • Where do you keep your important paperwork? Encourage them to organise the following paperwork and store it in a safe place known to you or their LPA attorney/s:
  • Essential Documents – Will; Powers of Attorney, Passport, Pension books, funeral plan.
  • Proof of Ownership – title documents, mortgage documents, vehicle registration documents, share certificates, savings bonds, ISAs, pension bonds, life insurance documentation, tax returns.
  • Bank Accounts – list of all accounts with user names and passcodes, safe deposit boxes.
  • Health Care Documents – Personal and family medical history; authority to release medical information, Advance Directive of Advance Statement.
  • Life Insurance and Retirement – life insurance policies, pension and annuity contracts

Long-term care planning

Family Caregiver Alliance – 69% of people aged 65+ will develop a disability. 35% will enter a nursing or care home. Discuss your parents plans.

  • Family to give care
  • Home carers like Blue Bird
  • Nursing home care
  • Long term care insurance

Living Arrangements

  • Living on multiple floors?
  • Will they need to carry laundry or groceries up/down stairs?
  • Challenge to manage house and garden later?
  • Can they afford to pay for assistance?
  • Would down-sizing be appropriate?

I ask because I care about you

It’s hard to talk about:

  • I don’t want to think about you dying and nor do you
  • I don’t want you to think that I am after your money
  • I want to be able to honour your wishes and choices by talking and planning now while you are able-bodied and able-minded.
  • Let’s make decisions and arrangements before you need them
  • You will have the most input and control now.
For more information on estate planning, powers of attorney or will writing please contact Catherine Paget

February 13, 2018

Making a will won’t kill you!

“Making a will won’t kill you!”

This is what I said to my Granny, who had a real superstition about it.  She genuinely believed that if she made a will, she would tempt Providence and instantly pass away.

We had “the will” conversation at her 92nd birthday party. My mother had baked her one of those cakes in two separate tins shaped as a “9” and a “2”.  We iced it and presented it so that it read “29”, which made my grandmother very happy.

I was 29 myself at the time and had qualified as a solicitor. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t make a will until I was in my mid-thirties and married with my first child.

70% of us don’t have a will but 90% of us worry about what will happen – time to do something about it

Making a will is something that most of us don’t think about. Or we put it off for a future date when we are going to have some free time or available cash. Shockingly, around 70% of the UK population don’t have a will and yet about 90% of people worry about passing their money, intact, to their children and grandchildren.

For most people, the three big worries are the taxman, the spectre of nursing home fees and the prospect of protecting family wealth for succeeding generations. Unfortunately, if you don’t make a will, you cannot expect that your money, property and belongings will pass, automatically, to the people that you really want to benefit.

The “standard” family

In 2015 the Office for National Statistics reported that 42% of marriages ended in divorce in England and Wales. In 2013, 19% of men and women who were divorcing, had also had a previous marriage which ended in divorce.  This percentage figure was 10% in 1980. It had almost doubled.

One consequence of marriage breakdown is that it produces complex family situations, often involving grown-up children of first marriages and second wives with younger children. Many court cases have arisen where one marriage partner expects the other to “do the right thing by my adult children.”

Don’t assume you will inherit from your partner

The intestacy rules apply a “one size fits all” solution to an estate where there is no will. Some couples do not marry or enter into a civil partnership, although they are in committed partnerships that have lasted for many years.  If one of them dies without making a will, their partner could face the appalling prospect of having to apply to a court for maintenance from the deceased partner’s estate.

The bereaved partner will not automatically receive anything. They rarely receive the whole estate. It is an expensive, nightmarish process at a time when they are grieving.   Imagine the additional trauma if they have minor children.

Looking after your loved ones

If you are in a committed relationship – you need to make a will.  Likewise if you have minor children, you need to make clear provision for them and choose the people best suited to look after them if the worst were to happen.  If you have a disabled child, it is possible to incorporate a trust into your will. This will ring fence money for that child.

Why you need to make a will

A carefully drawn will dramatically improves your chances of minimising tax, avoiding care home fees and keeping your money out of your children’s divorce settlements. It also provides security and peace of mind for the people you love.

Take the first step to sorting out your families future by contacting Catherine Paget today at Paget Will Writing.