YOU are your most important asset
No matter what your age, or the value of your estate, making a Will and putting your affairs in order is one of the most important tasks you can carry out. To die without a Will (Intestate) can result in untold problems for those left behind, and may mean your final wishes are not carried out. Having a professionally prepared Will gives you peace of mind- knowing that everything has been done correctly with all loose ends tied up, and that your wishes will be carried out after you've gone.
A basic will does not provide mitigation against Inheritance Tax or any safeguards against the erosion of your Estate by Care Home Fees. However, a basic Will is the foundation of Estate Planning, and enables you to nominate Executors and Guardians which is essential to ensure that your Estate is distributed as you would wish.
A staggering 2.4 million homes are affected by inheritance tax; this is set to rise to 4 million by the end of this decade. Within five years 12% of the total adult population of the UK will become liable on death to pay this Tax! Between 1997 and 2004 the threshold was increased broadly in line with the retail prices index, rising by 22% compared with house price inflation of 129%. The Government this year estimate inheritance tax revenue to be up to £3.5 BILLION POUNDS!
Mitigating inheritance tax with a ‘Discretionary Will Trust’ is a perfectly legal step to take, and leaves you in control of your assets and income while you are alive. Just as important, it leaves you or your spouse in control of assets and income when one of you dies. So, unless you actually want to leave up to 40% of the value of your house and savings to HMRC, this should be the cornerstone of your Inheritance tax planning strategy.
Living Will (an 'Advance Medical Directive')
A Living Will (or Advance Medical Directive) provides the opportunity to document your wishes with respect to end of life medical treatment, incorporated in a form that is accepted by both the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing.
A Living Will allows you to decide in preparation, if afflicted by a deliberating illness or injury what is wished for in the way of medical treatment or life support. Such wishes can come into effect when you are mentally impaired, such as with a coma, and unable to communicate with medical professionals as to the acceptability of certain medical treatments.
It may be advisable to seek advice about this from your General Practitioner or another medical professional.
Lasting Power of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) allows you to appoint people whom you trust to make decisions for you, if have lost your mental capacity through illness or an accident. Without this in place families can face enormous complications in handling your affairs at a difficult time. An LPA can be used to delegate decisions relating to personal welfare, including health care and medical treatment decisions, as well as decisions about financial matters.