Almost half of UK adults don’t have a valid Will in place – which can complicate succession and estate planning while opening your loved ones up to a host of Inheritance Tax liabilities. Russell Brett explains why having a valid Will in place is essential to safeguard your assets and protect your family from mounting costs.

Research from the Association of Lifetime Lawyers reveals that almost half of UK adults don’t have a valid Will and one in ten have started drafting one but have yet to finish it. 

Unless finalised and validated by being properly signed by a witness, a Will won’t be considered valid. This opens your estate and your assets up to being divided by the rules of intestacy.

This can lead to claims of contested inheritance and familial problems, as well as the larger and much more ominous consequence of failing to finalise a valid Will: Inheritance Tax.

Having a Will is essential to minimise tax liabilities

Without an up-to-date, verified Will that reflects your current circumstances and lasting intent, unexpected tax levies can become an acute issue for your family in the future. 

If you were to die under such conditions, this would qualify as dying intestate – which means that, legally, your family might be vulnerable to sudden and unexpected tax consequences. The related Inheritance Tax liabilities could severely impact your estate, your assets, and your loved ones’ financial security. 

Update Your Will Week is from Monday 4th to Sunday 10th March 2024 and is a dedicated drive from the Lifetime Association of Lawyers to raise awareness of the wealth of problems leaving a Will incomplete (or worse, non-existent!) can cause.

Even if you have an existing, valid Will, it’s crucial to update this regularly to reflect your current assets and intentions. Going over your changing assets with your financial adviser is just as vital, as it allows you to minimise your tax liability and ensure you’re diversifying risk across your range of investments. 

Power of Attorney is an important concern in later retirement 

Just as planning for the future of your estate and your assets is high on your list of priorities, so too should be setting up safeguards to protect your loved ones and minimise distress in times of uncertainty. As we get older, our minds and bodies may not be what they once were and serious health issues can suddenly make Power of Attorney a critical issue. If you were to suffer an accident, or become mentally incapacitated and unable to make key decisions about your care, quality of life and assets, you’d need someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf. 

A recent survey has found that just 24% of UK adults had discussed implementing Power of Attorney with family, according to YouGov. This leaves over three-quarters open to facing legal challenges if mentally unfit to make their own choices.

Setting up PoA is very important, especially for those of us in later retirement, as it grants those closest to you the legal right to make decisions on your behalf.

If you’re concerned about your investments, assets or family and would like to discuss planning for the future, get in touch with your dedicated financial adviser today. To learn more about Update Your Will week, visit the Association of Lifetime Lawyer’s website at www.lifetimelawyers.org.uk