For more information follow these links: to the Intestacy flowchart to see who gets what, if you don't have a valid Will
and for further information this summary of The Inheritance and Trustees' Provision Act 2014.
We recommend Wills are deposited with the Probate Service; they provide a Certificate of Deposit and currently charge £20 as a one off fee. The Probate Service is part of the Law Court that deals with your estate when you die. It's best to take a copy (print and/or scan) before dispatch so you can refer to it without having to ask for it back and keep that with a list of your bank accounts and a summary of the significant property you possess.
Commercial Will storage - Some charge an annual rather than a one off fee for Will Storage; the total cost can work out a lot more than the Probate Service. They may also aim to persuade you to sign up in advance for them to make the application for Probate and Administer your estate when that time comes; my advice is to appoint professionals at the appropriate time, rather than in advance.
You just need your Will professionally drafted right now. Tell your personal (lay) representatives in your Will that they should obtain 3 quotes after you've died before appointing Professional Executors and/or Professional Trustees to support them. That way the costs incurred will be competitive and up to date. This should maximise the value of the residuary; the amount left after specific legacies have been addressed.
A Will involves planning the eventual distribution of your estate. One standard approach is to leave your property to your children, but to make sure that your spouse does not lose their benefits and continues to enjoy the financial security that they did. Many wills accordingly leave property to the surviving spouse for life, the residue being reserved for their children. You may be the survivor and so should secure your interest as painlessly as possible; this can be achieved through trust provisions within the will, that expand on the strict statutory rules that would otherwise apply if omitted.
Many parents still consider their children to remain vulnerable at the tender age of 18; this is the moment the young will inherit outright unless delayed by a provision within your will. It is common practice to delay outright inheritance to 21 or 25 years old, while applying the income in the meanwhile and advancing sections of capital only at the discretion of your trustees.
A trustee restricted to statute has to work as if their charge is a vulnerable orphan at inconvenience to the trustees themselves - remember this could be you as the surviving spouse.
Overall information on Inheritance Tax can be found on the Government website: www.gov.uk/topic/personal-tax/inheritance-tax.
A recent item of interest: Advice on the calculation of the threshold level, before Inheritance Tax becomes payable:
To briefly explain the terms: the basic threshold level, below which inheritance tax is not payable is referred to as the Nil Rate Band (NRB); this is £325000 at the time of writing . The actual threshold level may be increased if the estate includes a home owned by the deceased and other conditions apply. This higher threshold level is referred to as the Residential Nil Rate Band (RNRB).
In November 2016 HMRC published their long awaited guidance on some of the more detailed areas relating to the Residential Nil Rate Band . The guidance covers areas such as how to calculate the RNRB, about transferring the RNRB, and also the treatment of the RNRB in relation to trusts. The guidance can be found here: www.gov.uk/guidance...
HMRC has also published some case studies highlighting some of the issues in calculating the RNRB. These can be found here:www.gov.uk/government/case-studies...
The following links provide more information and definitions of terms, that are commonly used in Wills and associated legislation:
Wills in English
Giving effect to your wishes
Edward Briscoe MPIW,
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Wills in English, Bakery Lodge, Skirmett, RG9 6TD.
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