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As the name suggests this type of Will is appropriate for a single person who has no spouse or partner.
The reason to why they may wish to write a Will is because they would like to ease the burden for their families by not having to be subject to the laws of intestacy or more importantly may be a single parent needing to appoint guardians for their children.
This type of Will is more commonly known as a "Joint Will" and is for people who are married or in a relationship.
These are actually two Wills which are designed to mirror each other i.e. if one partner dies then the estate passes over to the surviving spouse and in the event of both deaths then down to children/beneficiaries hence the name Mirror Wills.
This is the most common form of Wills for couples however with the ever increase in property prices it may be wise to look at arranging a more complex Will such as a Discretionary Will in order to help overcome a possible Inheritance Tax charge on your estate.
If you're unsure then please call us for advice to determine if there is a reason for concern or not.
Avoiding inheritance tax with a 'discretionary will trust' is perfectly legal that leaves you in control of your assets and income while you are alive.
Just as important, it leaves you or your spouse in control of assets and income when one of you dies. So unless you actually want to leave up to 40% of the value of your house and savings to The Inland Revenue, this should be the cornerstone of most married couple's tax avoidance strategy (as it is usually the most cost effective strategy) and can even be used for avoiding inheritance tax on the family home.
A Discretionary Will is a more complicated version of a Mirror Will and enables the Testator (The person making the Will) to use their "Nil Rate Band" (the amount that can be passed free of Inheritance Tax per individual) to be placed into trust for their beneficiaries, the main advantage being that the trust can loan the inheritance back to the surviving spouse.
Upon death of the last spouse all debts have to be settled on the estate before Inheritance Tax is calculated so the loan that originated from the trust has to be rLPAid first. By doing so the portion of the estate is except form Inheritance Tax and the last survivor will also have their own "Nil Rate band" which can be used to offset the residuary estate thus meaning both parties "Nil Rate Band" has been used effectively.
To ensure this type of arrangement is effective it is imperative that you equalize the estates assets as much as possible (sLPArating joint owned to individually owned) by doing so assets can be gifted in your Will. This is straight forward enough when it arranging liquid capital such as money held in deposit account and investments. However the largest asset for most people is their property. Please refer to the "Tenancy Severance" section for further details on how this is achieved.
This is similar to the Discretionary Will Trust the difference being is that you are actually specifying your share of the property in Trust for your beneficiaries on the understanding that the surviving spouse/partner can remain in the property (and move house if needed) and the beneficiaries will only benefit from the legacy upon the final sale of the property or the death of the spouse/partner.
This type of trust is good for elderly people worried about being forced to sell their house to fund care costs or for common couples concerned that their partner may re-marry upon their death leaving their children out of the equation.
Benjamin Franklin once said that "nothing is certain but death and taxes", and thanks to inheritance tax, they're not only certain - they're intrinsically linked.
Inheritance tax is currently charged at 40 per cent, and is payable on your estate once your net assets exceed £325,000. For any married couples and civil partners, any unused percentage of the available allowance from the estate of the first to pass away may be claimed when the second spouse dies. Once the domain of the super-rich, wide scale home ownership and rising property values have meant that more and more people being subjected to inheritance tax every year.
Planning to reduce IHT is not just about saving money. It's about helping you to preserve your wealth in the most efficient way.
To help you achieve the solution you want, there are a number of different ways of addressing IHT:
Building up wealth is never easy. It can, however, be relatively easy to manage the potential IHT charge on your wealth. At Wills Trust we have built strong links with local Independent Financial Advisors who can complement our services ensuring your every need is taken care of and help minimise the impact of IHT on your estate.
Anyone can become unable to manage his or her own affairs, at anytime. Should such an event occur, either through accident, severe ill health or paralysis due to a stroke etc. it would make life very difficult for a wife, husband or other family member because no-one else has the authority to deal with their financial affairs or property.
Most legal bodies would strongly recommend when reviewing your affairs that you give consideration to the prLPAration and completion of an Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) relating to your property and personal affairs. This is of particular importance for people of retirement age and older.
The purpose of an LPA is to enable a person (the Donor) to decide whom they would like to deal with their affairs, if they ever became mentally or physically incapable. An LPA must be created while the Donor is of sound mind, so that the attorney can, upon the Donor's mental or physical incapacity, put the LPA into effect. By deciding beforehand, whom to give the responsibility to, for administering his/her affairs, the Public Guardianship Office should not need to be involved, saving many thousands of pounds that can be better distributed elsewhere.
Without an LPA, if you become incapacitated all your finances are frozen, your partner does not assume the automatic right to deal with your affairs and your property cannot be sold. The Public Guardianship Office will appoint a receiver to take control on your behalf, creating a large amount of extra red tape and expense.
You can choose to appoint anyone as your Attorney, normally a family member, to make decisions that you cannot make yourself because of incapacity, infirmity or possibly you may be travelling overseas. You can even appoint more than one person to act at the same time. Powers of Attorney can be held with your personal papers such as your will so as to be readily accessible should they be needed at any time.
It is now recognised by the British Medical Council that knowing the desires of a person concerning their medical preferences in an Advance Medical Directive (sometimes called a Living Will), can be very helpful if medical intervention was needed.
Most such documents contain a simple expression of the individual's wish, usually addressed to the family physician and/or other family members, that if the individual should be suffering from a terminal condition, his or her life is not to be prolonged by artificial means.
A Living Will only takes effect if you become unable to tell people your wishes about your medical treatment, so you can no longer take part in decisions about it.
These statements are called Advance Directives, and in England and Wales they are legally binding as long as the following conditions apply:
The British Medical Association has issued a statement supporting the use of Living Wills, so doctors must take patients' wishes into account - they must not give patients treatment they do not wish to have.
A Living Will expresses important and very personal wishes which you do not have to discuss with anybody. However, we suggest you talk to your doctor, as he or she will be able to explain the health care options open to you. If you complete an Advance Directive, discussing it with a doctor will also show that you are fully aware of the consequences of the decision you are taking and that your doctor fully understands what you want in case there is a dispute about your true wishes later.
You might also want to discuss your plans with other people, for example, your partner, family or friends, a nurse, counsellor or religious adviser. Make sure that people close to you know you have made a Living Will and where you have stored it. If you go into hospital ask for a copy to be added to your hospital notes.
The wishes stated in a Living Will are not final, and you can change them at any time while you are still mentally capable of doing so. You do not have to do this in writing, but rather it is enough just to tell your doctor.
However, if you do change your wishes, it is wise to destroy your Living Will (and all copies of it), and make sure that any doctor treating you, and the people close to you, know about the changes.
Joint tenancy and tenants in common / severance of tenancy are two types of ways a property can be owned.
Joint tenancy is a type of property ownership by two or more individuals together. It differs from other types of co-ownership in that if one owner dies, the surviving joint tenant immediately becomes the owner of the whole property. This is called a Right of Survivorship. This type of ownership is generally used by married couples.
Tenants in common / severance of tenancy in which also an asset is owned by two or more individuals together, but without the rights of survivorship. This is the major difference between joint tenancy and tenants in common - the former involves the rights of survivorship and the later does not.
Thus, in the tenancy in common or severance of tenancy, upon the death of one co-owner, his or her interest will not pass to the surviving owner or owners, but will pass according to his or will. If there is no will, his or her share will pass according to the law determining heirs. This method is suitable for those co-owners who want to specify their shares in the property.
We also offer our clients the facility of storing their Will for a nominal monthly fee. Simply return the signed and witnessed Will to us with the signed terms and conditions. You will then be able to login to the website and have the option to view the document at any time. Should you wish to amend any portion of your Will then complete the amendment form and your new Wills will be sent to you ready for you to sign & witness. Amending your Will is a free service subject to a maximum of two amendments per calendar year. Included in the subscription at no extra charge is our unique "Itinerary Service"
This service is only available to clients subscribing to the storage facility.
Imagine you had to sort someone else's financial affairs out as an executor of a Will... It can seem like a daunting process.
The Itinerary Service is designed to give your executors a structure to work to and to help ease the strain at such a difficult time. It outlines your financial affairs given your executor a clear picture and agenda to work to. i.e. whose the mortgage with, details of any life policies you may have, pension benefits, bank accounts and investments etc. all of which need to be notified and the relevant monies brought into the estate in order to distribute it in accordance to how your Wills written. This combined with our downloadable guidance notes "Duties of the Executor" can be a powerful and useful tool for your executors making administrating your estate as smooth as possible. Once you account has been set up you will be able to access this service at anytime and keep it up to date as you go through life's changes.