Estate Planning Newsflash

News

30 January, 2015

Intestacy rules change

From 1st October 2014 the rules governing the situation where someone dies without making a Will have changed. Spouses and civil partners will now receive a greater share of the estate outright. In cases where there are no children the spouse or civil partner will inherit the whole estate. Where there are children the children will inherit half of anything over £250k.

Whilst this may be good news for some, the law still makes no provision for unmarried couples and it is a good opportunity for all people who have not made a Will to consider whether the law will make adequate provision for their family on their death.

Making a Will gives you the power and flexibility to make the provision that you want. You can choose who will inherit, when and in what way and also who will be responsible for sorting things out.

For example, in the case of a divorced gentleman who dies without leaving a will - his children will inherit the estate but if they are under 18 their mother (the ex-wife) is the person entitled to apply to deal with the administration of the estate on behalf of the children and the children will inherit a sizeable amount of money at the age of 18. Had he made a Will he could have appointed his own family to deal with the administration of his estate and manage the money on trust for the children until they were 21 or 25 and hopefully mature enough to manage the funds for themselves.

Pensions

The Chancellor has announced the next phase of the promised pension changes. Changes had already been announced that affect the amounts that people can invest in pension schemes and increase the flexibility of pensions on retirement but this new announcement significantly changes how pensions will be dealt with and taxed on the death of the scheme member.

Whilst the detail is still to be published the changes indicate that:

  • Any member dying under the age of 75 can leave their pension fund tax free to their beneficiaries whether or not they have started taking a benefit from their pension fund.
  • Where a member dies over the age of 75 the tax on any lump sum death benefit is reduced from 55% to 45% and there will be the option for beneficiaries to continue to take an income rather than a lump sum being taxed at their own income tax rate.

This all should give people more choice and flexibility on how they choose to take their pension and pass the benefit of their pension fund on to their beneficiaries.

If you wuld like to discuss making a Will or any other aspect of arranging your personal affairs, please contact Victoria Motley by email or on 01772 220262.

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