Where there’s a will, there’s a way
Everyone who has assets they want to protect should create a will. Without one, assets will be shared out in a way defined by the law, which might not necessarily reflect the wishes of the deceased.
Having a will also makes an already difficult time much easier for friends and family, simplifying the inheritance process and reducing the likelihood of arguments breaking out.
So, what should people be considering during their estate planning process?
Choosing an executor
An executor is someone who carries out the instructions left in a deceased’s will and does not have to be a family member, however, that is usually the case. Spouses often appoint each other, and grown-up children are a common choice. It all depends on who the person believes would be most trustworthy and capable.
Although executors don’t need to know the contents of the will, it is sensible to let them know of their role beforehand, just in case they have any strong objections.
Should a person wish to appoint two executors, they need to be sure that they will be able to work together without issue to ensure the estate is administered efficiently.
Appointing a solicitor as an executor
It is not necessary for a solicitor to be appointed as an executor, but it can be a wise move if it is likely that the administration process will be a complex one. This may be due to estate value, asset makeup or certain assets, such as business or agricultural holdings, needing a more expert eye.
When a person prepares their will, their advisor should carefully explain the advantages and disadvantages of appointing a solicitor as an executor. There will be a charge for carrying out this role, so the appointment needs to be justified by the complexity of the estate.
However, if a person feels that there is no one else they can trust to carry out the role, solicitors are a good second option.
Telling family members
Once a will has been written, family members do not have to be told. This being said, it is usually a good idea to do so, especially if it includes details about funeral plans.
It can also act as a form of reassurance, letting family know that future plans have been considered.
Once a person has passed away
On death, the appointed executors will take responsibility for the administration of the person’s estate. This includes:
- Securing assets
- Checking insurance policies
- Protecting the estate from loss
- Distributing the estate in accordance with the details of the will
- Discharging any taxes e.g. Capital Gains Tax, Income Tax and Inheritance Tax
- Notifying those who have an interest in the estate of their entitlement
- Providing beneficiaries with estate accounts
A Grant of Probate may be needed for executors to deal with certain assets, such as property, shareholdings or bank accounts containing larger sums of money.
Estate planning may be an uncomfortable thought for many, but it is vital to ensuring a person’s wishes are met on their death. Contact Matt Parr on 01908 304 420 to find out more about how our private client team can help you.
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