9 Reasons to make a Will

Radio 2 recently reported on research that found the majority of adults do not have a valid will in place. Given the relatively low cost of having one professionally prepared, there is no excuse and it can avoid a potential mess being left behind for your loved ones to clear up.

And if you still need convincing – read on……

 1.   You get to choose who benefits from your estate

  •  without a will, the intestacy rules apply and there is no provision for unmarried partners
  • if a couple die together and have no children, there is a presumption that the younger survived the elder, so everything goes to the younger’s relatives

 2.   It ensures your wishes are binding

  •  the executors dealing with your will are required to comply with certain rules

3.   You make sure the funeral arrangements you want are clear

  •  it is still important to make your next of kin aware of your wishes as the funeral may take place before your will is even found

 4.   Allows you to have a voice about your children

  •  you can appoint legal guardians
  • if you want someone to care for your children who would not usually be considered their next of kin then you can explain your reasons

5.   It can safeguard your business

  •  you ideally need to consider in advance tax points such as IHT (Inheritance Tax) relief
  • decide who to leave as the majority shareholder – although this would also need to be in accordance with any shareholders agreement

6.   It enables you to leave gifts to charity

  •  many charities rely heavily on bequests in wills
  • these gifts are free of IHT

7.   It enables you to make minor/specific bequests

  •  the intestacy rules simply split your estate into percentages
  • you may prefer to make individual gifts of personal items eg jewellery

 8.   It allows you to choose your own executors

  •  you can save money with less professional involvement if you appoint friends or relatives
  • you can avoid overburdening your next of kin (at a time when they will be very emotional) as there is a presumption they will deal with the estate if there is no will

9.   It enables you to take advantage of some tax planning

  •  getting professional advice on a will includes reviewing your IHT position and how it will get paid

 If you would like to make a will, please contact our James Blakemore on 01992 631461 or email him at james.blakemore@curwens.co.uk

Curwens LLP is your local firm of solicitors offering most areas of legal advice – based in Royston, Hoddesdon and Enfield.

 

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If you die suddenly, who “minds the shop” ?

Certain business assets attract significant relief from Inheritance Tax at either 50% or 100% depending on the type of assets involved but what can be done on a more practical basis in order to protect your business and your beneficiaries, should the worst happen? Guest blogger and Wills specialist James Blakemore looks at the options.

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If you die, what happens to your business? It’s a big question whether you’re a sole trader, partner or director/shareholder. Your Will gives you the chance to reduce the risk of loss of profit, dissolution of the business, unbalanced shareholder control. Most importantly, it ensures your assets pass to those you want and that they get a fair value for them. Ask yourself :

1. Who gets the business assets or their fair value – your spouse, children, business partner or employees? Your Will is the only way to ensure that the rightful beneficiary receives their gift.

2. What about the day to day running of your business if you’re not there? How will the business cope without you? Your executors administer your estate but are they best qualified to actually run your business? If not, you can appoint separate executors to deal with the running of the business and give them wide powers of management. In effect, you can separate your personal and business assets to ensure that they are dealt with as you want and by those you trust to do the right thing.

3. What will happen to the business, your co-directors and employees? Would you want your business to be sold as a going concern or simply dissolved to achieve the best price? Many shareholder and partnership agreements include the right to allow other parties the first option to buy the shares or the assets of a deceased partner from their estate – however, many do not. As well as making your wishes legally binding in your Will you can also have a separate agreement with your business partners to deal with this.

Commonly referred to as a “Cross Option” or “Double Option Agreement”, it is used in situations where a shareholder or partner has passed away or is critically ill. If you believe that the business would be best served by its assets being retained by the remaining owners and/or employees, these agreements allow the assets to be offered first to the owners/employees and require your executors to do this.

If you want the business to continue and your beneficiaries to receive a fair price for the shares or other assets, this can set out the terms of the transaction. It would usually require each shareholder or partner to take out a suitable life and/or critical illness insurance policy, held in trust, to ensure that funds are available to purchase the business assets.

4. In relation to critical illness, what happens if you are unable to make decisions? Your executors will have no rights to deal with that as they are only appointed on your death. The answer lies in a Lasting Power of Attorney. You can appoint those you wish to deal with your property and financial affairs in circumstances where you can’t and also appoint those you trust to deal with different aspects of your affairs. Much like the appointment of separate executors, you can appoint different attorneys to deal with your personal assets and others to deal with business assets. You are also free to restrict or place conditions on their role.

Your Will ensures that those you want to benefit from your estate can do so, without the interference of outdated statutory rules. It is equally important to ensure that your Will reflects that both your wishes in relation to your business are carried out and offers comfort to your beneficiaries and business partners by ensuring that which you have worked so hard to achieve is not lost.

Can we help you? Our commercial and private client teams can advise on drawing up Cross Option Agreements, Wills, Trust Deeds and Powers of Attorney. Contact us today for more certainty. James.blakemore@curwens.co.uk or 01992 463727