Making a will is one of those tasks that people tend put off the most and it’s one of the main reasons why every year millions of pounds worth of assets left by loved ones end up not being passed on.
None of us like to talk about death and I can understand why, but failing to make a will can leave those left behind with significant problems and stress at what is already a tough time.
Also having spent a lifetime working hard to accrue wealth and maybe property, surely you want to have a say in who receives what when you die?
A will can ensure that assets remain within the family and are passed on down the generations. Some people are concerned that new spouses may inherit their assets in the future but a well-structured will can stop this happening.
Around two thirds of UK adults do not have a will and could be at risk of losing control over their estate if they die, according to a joint study released this week by The Co-operative Funeralcare and The Co-operative Legal Services.
Previous reports have estimated that around a third of people who have lost a family member in the past ten years have struggled to locate their financial assets.
That’s a big part of why in the UK there is currently more than £600 million sitting in unclaimed bank accounts, £44 million in unclaimed premium bonds and more than £3 billion in stocks and shares.
The problem is if people don’t know what savings, investments, life insurance and treasured possessions you own, they have little chance of tracking them down.
You could turn to a Solicitor to help with your search, but it’s easy to run up a bill of £2,000 plus for this service and even more if it’s not a straightforward case.
Don’t leave it too late
The Co-operative findings also reveal that of those who made a will, the average age they first wrote their will was 42 whereas 1 in 4 left it until after the age of 55.
The most common trigger that prompts people to think about a will is reaching a milestone age, maybe the big 40, 50 or even older.
Other cited reasons that spur people on to make a will are having a child, the death of relative and purchasing of a property..
Despite the fact that life events such as marriage, divorce and the death of a spouse can significantly impact the effectiveness of a will, many people have never updated their wishes with a third of people admitting they simply just haven’t got round to it
Making a will – top tips
The first step is to make an appointment with a local solicitor to make your will (and remember keep it updated every few years).
Secondly, don’t forget to tell your family that you’ve made a will and where it’s located.
As well as the will itself, write down list of your assets and keep it with your will, that way the wealth that you’ve worked so hard for all your life can be located without too much effort and will be passed on to the people that you want to receive it.
It’s a concern that over half of people who have wills have never updated them so it’s wise to have a quick read through your will every couple of years to ensure it still meets your wishes.
If you haven’t already made a will, now’s an ideal time to get something sorted.
During November as part of ‘Will Aid’ you can get a will prepared by participating solicitors in return for a donation to charity – you can find who is offering the service in your area, by entering your post code on www.willaid.org.uk
Financial advisers expect the number of couples and families seeking joint advice on retirement planning to increase as a result of the recent pension freedom rule changes, according to new research by Prudential.
Advisers estimate that couples already make up more than 40 per cent of their client base while wider family groups account for 17 per cent. However advisers expect these figures to rise as a result of pension freedoms – two thirds expect to advise more couples in the future.
In fact the insurer’s research results suggest that the pension freedoms may have been having an impact on the numbers of couples and families seeking joint financial advice even before they came into force in April this year.
One in three (33 per cent) advisers reported an increase in couples and families in their client base over the last 12 months.
The changes to pension rules that were initially announced in March 2014 and came in to force in April 2015 not only enabled access to defined contribution pension savings lump sums for those over 55 as part of the increased flexibility, but will also allow many savers to pass on their pension pot to others tax free for the first time.
When asked to predict which aspects of financial advice would become more important to families and couples in the light of the new pension freedoms, advisers highlighted inheritance tax planning, tax minimisation and planning for retirement income as the most likely.
Vince Smith-Hughes, retirement income expert at Prudential, said: “Recent changes mean that for some people it’s now also important to involve their wider families in the planning and decision making process.
“The choices now faced by those who have saved through their working life and the implications of these choices mean that, more than ever, professional financial advice should be a valuable part of retirement planning for most people.