It might be the last thing you want to think about as a single parent, but making sure you have a valid Will is essential. This is the document that will ensure your children will be looked after in the way you choose.
Failing to make a Will means that your children could be subjected to additional turmoil right when they need things to be as settled as possible. Issues such as who they will live with, who will inherit your money and possessions, at what age your children will inherit and who will look after the money until then could all be subject to dispute.
Writing a Will allows you to clearly set out your wishes for your children for the future.
Deciding who you want to look after your children is important, especially if you have sole custody. Discuss the matter with those whom you are choosing to ensure they are happy to take on the role.
As well as appointing your first choice, you should also choose backups as well, in case your initial choice is unable or unwilling to act if and when the time comes.
By thinking about this now, you avoid the risk that your children will end up with someone whom you wouldn’t have chosen, or even in foster care.
Making a Will allows you to leave all of your money and possessions to whoever you want. If you fail to do so, your estate will pass under the rules of intestacy.
This could mean that if you are still married your ex will inherit your personal possessions along with the first £250,000 of your estate, plus 50% of the remainder.
If you wish to leave everything to your children, your Will needs to specify this. Your solicitor will also be able to advise how to pass your share of your home on to your children.
This section of the Will allows you to choose who you would like to look after the money until your children are old enough to inherit.
They will have the responsibility of approving payments for the children’s day to day living costs, education and larger items that they may ask for as they grow older, such as a car or payment for accommodation.
Age of inheritance
Your Will can stipulate at what age your children can inherit their share of your estate. You may well feel that 18 is too young for them to be handed what may be a large sum of money, so you can choose to leave it until they are older, for example 25.
To speak to someone about writing your Will, call one of our specialist team at legalmatters, on 01243 216900 or email us at email@example.com.
When the owner of a business dies, administering the estate can be a complex affair.
A business forms part of a deceased’s estate and can be left under the terms of their will. However probate is far more difficult to administer when a business which is a going concern is left. In this event, the personal representative will almost certainly need specialist help to deal with the transfer of the business and any shares or alternatively with the winding-up.
Immediate decisions will need to be taken if the business is operational. The more planning the deceased has put into this, the easier it will be. There is a substantial risk to a business when its owner or part-owner dies that it will not be able to continue, or that its operation may be hampered in the short-term.
Preparing for this eventuality will mean that things can continue as smoothly as possible and the benefit of the business will be able to be passed on in the way the deceased would have wished.
Depending on the structure of the business, different actions may be needed.
If the business owner operated alone, the business simply becomes part of their estate and any debts will be paid out of the estate.
Ideally a partnership agreement will have been drawn up detailing how the death of a partner is to be dealt with. If this hasn’t been done, the effects can be catastrophic for both the business and any remaining partners.
Death will cause the dissolution of the partnership and the business would need to be wound up. This could take years and be complex to achieve. Any remaining partners would need to start a new business, alongside trying to finalise the old one.
Each partner would be liable for their share of any debts. If the business is in profit, the deceased partner’s share would become part of their estate.
Private or public limited company
If the deceased owned shares in a company, these would pass under the terms of the will or in accordance with the rules of intestacy to the beneficiaries.
If a shareholders’ agreement exists, this may give the other shareholders a right to buy the shares at market value, with a given time period for them to raise the necessary funds.
Where the deceased was the sole director of a company, the personal representative will need to register the shares in the name of the beneficiary and also appoint a new director, and possibly a company secretary as well.
When someone actively involved in running their own business dies, it can be complicated for the executor or administrator to deal with. It is always a good idea to call in specialist help to deal with matters as quickly and efficiently as possible so that the business can continue.
To speak to someone about winding up an estate that includes a business, call one of our specialist team at legalmatters, on 01243 216900 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re thinking of getting married, or entering into a civil partnership, you should commit to review your Will either before or immediately after your marriage. Why? To avoid – in the event of your death – your estate being divided under the rules of intestacy!
In England and Wales, your existing Will is automatically revoked when you get married or enter into a civil partnership. So it is vital to review, and if necessary, update your Will after marriage. That is unless your Will makes specific reference to your intended marriage (“in contemplation of marriage”). Take this important step to protect your family and your estate so that the law doesn’t get to dictate who will inherit your money, property and possessions when you die.
What do the rules say?
A person who dies without a valid Will is said to die ‘intestate’. Under the rules of intestacy:
- If you are married and your estate is worth less than £250k, your spouse will inherit everything, even if you have children
- If you are married with children (not including stepchildren), and your estate is worth more than £250k, your spouse will inherit the first £250k plus personal belongings. Anything remaining is then split 50/50 between your spouse and your children. Your children will all inherit an equal share of this remaining 50%.
What about divorce?
While getting married automatically invalidates a Will, getting a divorce does not. But, if you end a marriage or civil partnership, your Will carries on as if your spouse has died. This means that they will not receive anything you have left to them in your Will, unless you expressly state that you still want this to happen. Likewise, if they are listed as an executor, they will no longer fulfil this role.
If you are planning to remarry following a divorce, the effect of your new marriage on your Will is the same as if you were marrying for the first time. So, any Will becomes invalid as soon as your marriage takes place.
It is important to update a Will following marriage. But where second families are involved, the potential for dispute increases, so it becomes even more crucial.
The birth of children and grandchildren should also instigate a Will review, as well as the death of any beneficiaries. Changes to your finances, fluctuations in property values, tax amendments and a whole range of other factors could also mean that your carefully drafted Will no longer reflects your situation and wishes. This is why experts agree that, as well as reviewing your Will after any significant life event, it’s also worth doing every five years.
Drawing up a Will is not a one-time task. Speak to one of our expert team at legalmatters by calling 01243 216900 or email email@example.com to ensure your Will is updated, and your wealth is passed on in line with your wishes.
If you’ve been left money or a share in someone’s estate, you may be wondering what liabilities you have. Do you need to pay tax on the money, and who is responsible for clearing any debts the deceased may have left?
After someone dies, their personal representative is responsible for winding up the estate. It is their job to collect in all the assets, sell any property and pay debts, including tax liabilities. Once this has been done, they will then distribute the funds in accordance with the Will or, if no Will was made, under the rules of intestacy.
Who is responsible for making payments from an estate?
If a Will was made, this will usually name a personal representative, known as an executor. If there was no Will, the Probate Registry will appoint an administrator.
This is the person who will be responsible for gathering in the money and settling any bills.
Debts are payable in a set order.
- Secured debts such as a mortgage
- Reasonable funeral costs
- Estate administration expenses
- Payments due to employees
- Unsecured debts
Estate administration expenses
These are usually the main expenses to be dealt with when winding up an estate and include the costs incurred by the personal representative, such as probate fees, estate agency and valuation fees, Income Tax and Inheritance Tax.
Making payments to beneficiaries
Once all of the debts have been paid, then the estate can be distributed to the beneficiaries. Personal possessions will be passed in accordance with the terms of any Will.
Cash payments are made in a strict order of priority.
Firstly, specified gifts of money are made to named beneficiaries.
After these have been paid, the residue is divided in accordance with the terms of the Will. A residual beneficiary can request a copy of the estate accounts, which will set out all income and expenses.
The amount of any taxes and other debts will therefore reduce the money paid to the residuary beneficiaries, as they are the last in the queue, after any specific cash legacies.
For help with administering an estate, call the probate experts at legalmatters on 01243 216900 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.