Monthly Archives: June 2014
We often get asked by potential clients what is the difference between us and Solicitors as, on the face of it, we do the same job. Up until the mid 1980’s, any legal advice and documentation pertaining to Wills and Estate Planning or Inheritance Protection, was the sole domain of those who had qualified as and were practising as a Solicitor. The law was changed at that point to enable a wider choice to the public and to increase competition, with the aim of increasing the numbers of persons who actually bothered to make a Will, by making it easier to do so. It was at that point that a whole new “breed” of professionals arrived on the scene using the title of Will Writers. Interestingly, the law made no stipulation about this new “breed” having to qualified to any degree, or being regulated in any way. As with most things in life, there were some “chancers” who took advantage of this situation by being neither qualified nor professional in any way whatsoever. Will Writers – also known as Estate Planners, Trust Advisors and Inheritance Advisors – are not regulated by law to this day although there has been much talk of it happening. The Lord Chancellor’s latest ruling (2013/14) was that it was to remain an unregulated activity although it’s principles were still under scrutiny – so it may well happen in the future. Most of us professional Will Writers believe it should be regulated and welcome the day it comes in to force. Continue reading
A thirty-eight year old man made an appointment to make a Will with me. He was an only child with no children of his own, a girlfriend and a large family of god-children, nephews and nieces. Importantly, he had a large Estate (circa £1m), most of which he had inherited from his parents.
I learnt that he wanted to try to mitigate his Inheritance Tax liability, which we intended to do with the use of a Trust outside his Will and he wanted his god-children to benefit from the bulk of his Estate as “his nephews and nieces didn’t pay him visits nor were they particularly close to him”. He did not wish his girlfriend to own anything he left her as she already had considerable assets in her own right. So, we agreed that the girlfriend should have only a life-interest in part of the Estate with an eventual benefit for the god-children and the rest of his Estate passing outright to his god-children. Continue reading
This is a true and very sad tale of a lovely couple who rang me recently to arrange an appointment to discuss their Estate Planning options. At our meeting, it was very obvious that the husband was not well as he was attached to an oxygen mask, the result of advanced lung cancer with a prognosis of three to six months left to live. The wife was distraught, as she pointed out to me that they had several rental properties, as well as the one in which they lived, plus savings of several thousands of pounds, plus assorted shares, bonds etc. However, most worryingly of all, they had a son who had been “troublesome” throughout his life and was now in financial difficulies caused by a recent acrimonious divorce.
I suggested the use of Trusts to protect the properties and a Will which would place the residue of the Estate in to a discretionary Trust thereby deferring the need for immediate decisions on any IHT liabilty which almost certainly would arise. I also suggested that in order to protect the son’s inheritance, his share should fall in to a separate Trust so that it could be kept at arms length until such time as the divorce was finalised and therefore would not come under attack.
I stressed the need for them to consider my recommendations wit a degree of urgency and to start putting the plans in to place. However, for various reasons, I heard no more from them for about three weeks. Due to this, I made a call to them to ask if they had come to any conclusions. The wife answered the phone – and informed me of her husband’s death the day before.
Although I offered my sincere condolences on the somewhat sudden death of her husband, it means that the options for planning a successful inheritance plan are now much more limited which in turn highlights the need for timely considerations of Estate Planning issues. In other words “It’s never too early to make a Will, but often too late”.