Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Where there’s a will……

…………..there’s often an argument!

A person making a will can change it at any time. Nobody else has an entitlement to see this private document, even if he or she thinks they may be named in it.

A will usually names ‘executors’ – the people responsible for identifying all the assets and liabilities, paying any taxes, obtaining a ‘grant of probate’ – basically getting permission from the court  - if required, and then administering the estate in accordance with the deceased’s wishes. In many cases, an application for a ‘grant of probate’ is not needed.[i]

Once a ‘grant of probate’ (or ‘letter of administration’, if the executors are unable or choose not to act) is granted, the will becomes a public document and anyone can apply to have a copy of it.[ii]

However, if no ‘grant of probate’ is made, the will remains a private document. Although the executors are entitled to share the contents with others, including residuary beneficiaries – those entitled to some part of the inheritance after all the obligations have been met, there is no obligation to do so.

There is good, free advice available on these issues.[iii] Taking it could both help your executors and stop a lot of arguments.

And, remember, whenever you hear someone suggest that cutting Inheritance Tax is a priority, such tax is paid on less than 1 in 25 estates.

A friend of mine has solved the problem by telling his children that he doesn’t believe in inherited wealth. However, if they insist, he’ll be more than happy to leave his overdraft to them!