It’s Never Too Soon to Make a Will, But Often Too Late!

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”.