Church Yard

The Law Society has completed some disturbing research revealing that a 73% of 16-54 year olds have not made a will. Matters improve somewhat for the over 55's of whom 64% have made clear their final wishes in a will, but the sad truth is that last year the tax man collected £8,000,000 from people who died intestate (without a will).

Sixteen year olds can be excused as they are young enough to believe themselves to be eternal, but it only takes a glance at the news to underscore how unexpected events can overtake anybody at any age.

In the same survey 23% of people assumed that if they died without a will their possessions would automatically go to their family. This is not the case. Without proper planning it is all too easy to find inheritance taxes being levied at a far higher rate than it would be if a proper will was in place. The facts speak for themselves, with the tax man expecting to reap nearly £6 billion through inheritance tax by 2018.

Law Society president Andrew Caplen said the figures are extremely concerning:

"Thousands of people die every year without making a will or without a properly drafted will. These figures show just how bad the problem is. Dying intestate not only means your final wishes will probably go unheeded, but the financial and emotional mess is left for your loved ones to sort out. This need not be your final legacy. Making a will is usually a very simple process but we urge people to use a qualified, insured solicitor because he or she will be able to spot the nuances that could lead to trouble later on if not properly addressed."

Fitzhugh Gates Solicitors Comment

Having a friend or family member pass away, experiencing an accident or illness or just feeling 'old enough' are the main reasons we hear from clients that are asking us to draft a will for them. One of the survey respondents said that they had decided to write a will only after nearly dying in a hotel swimming pool, whilst another said they didn't want their divorced wife to inherit anything. These comments may raise a wry smile, but perhaps the most worrying reason given by people for not having a will comes from 34% of those questioned who said that they did not believe that they had anything worth leaving.

As probate lawyers we are always faced with clients who feel real benefit from having a will making clear their final wishes. Fitzhugh Gates have the experience to write a will that can substantially reduce the amount of inheritance tax that would otherwise be payable. In many cases our estate planning can help clients avoid inheritance tax altogether. It is a fact that inheritance tax can be a lot higher without a will.

We believe a will is also important as it ensures that the interests of your family are properly protected, i.e. financial security is provided for your spouse, and assets can be safeguarded for your children, in particular those from a different relationship, thus helping to avoid family upset and potential legal actions after death.

Rhiannon Winter LLB (Hons) - Solicitor

Important guidance on articles published by Fitzhugh Gates Solicitors

Articles published through this website contain only general advice and are not intended as professional counsel and should not be used as such.

If you require specific advice on a particular issue or problem highlighted by this article, then please contact Fitzhugh Gates, the Solicitors for Brighton and Hove and Shoreham-by-Sea. 

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