New year, new you? Let’s face it we all start January with New Year resolutions that we often break by the 31st! However, it is not a bad idea to use the new year to consider putting your paperwork in order and ensure, from a legal point of view, you have all the planning in place you need. Here are some New Year resolutions that you can keep and hopefully put you in better stead for 2018!
If you haven’t got a Will, put this at the top of your list! Two thirds of the UK population don’t have a Will. If you don’t have a Will, your estate is intestate and passes under rules that were written almost 100 years ago. Don’t rely on this!
If you have a Will but it is more than 5 years old, review this. Don’t put it off! There can be all sorts of complications if you don’t have a current Will. Whilst you don’t need to amend your Will if addresses change, check to see that the beneficiaries are still up to date and an example of this might be grandchildren that have been born since you signed your last Will.
Is your Will up to date from an inheritance tax point of view? If your Will was signed prior to 2007, chances are it contains a nil rate band discretionary trust. This ensured that you could use both nil rate bands for a couple (currently £650,000). Whilst trusts of this sort can still be relevant, the rules were relaxed allowing automatic transfer and you might want to simplify your Will.
Do you need to plan for inheritance tax? This might mean lifetime planning – gifts of capital (you need to survive 7 years), gifts of assets (you need to survive 7 years and not benefit from the asset) gifts of surplus income (you must keep meticulous records) but also ensuring you benefit from the new residence nil rate band (£100,000, rising to £125,000 in April) – this starts to taper once your estate is over £2m. Can you plan to preserve this?
If you have life policies or pension policies have you completed the nomination form? (sometimes called a letter of wish or trust form) This ensures that any lump sum will pay out inheritance tax free and is the most basic inheritance tax planning you can do.
Have you put a Lasting Power of Attorney in place? There are LPAs for property and finance decisions and, separately, for health and welfare decisions
Why see a solicitor? Whilst you can do your Will / LPA yourself, it is easy to get it wrong! Some reasons to seek professional advice:-
- We know our stuff: At Peacock & Co we focus on this specific practice areas rather than being generic ‘one fits all’ lawyers.
- We have experience: I have over 20 years’ experience in advising clients in relation to their estate planning affairs.
- We are independently accredited: As well as being a qualified solicitor, I have undertaken additional specialist training and am accredited by the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners (STEP) and Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE).
- We speak a language you understand: I pride myself on providing practical and clear advice in a friendly and approachable way. No jargon!