Wills need not be complex, nor do they need to be long, drawn-out affairs. Many people put off preparing one in the mistaken belief that it is expensive or complicated, leaving their loved ones with a much more complex process of probate once they do pass.
The most common mistake in estate planning is not planning at all. This month we take a closer look at why this is and what other common mistakes are made to help you avoid them and make the probate process smoother for your family and loved ones.
A lack of planning
Assuming that wills are only for those with wealthy estates and lots of assets is a mistake made by many. The term ‘estate’ in will planning relates to any assets you may have, including your home, any valuables such as cash or jewellery, or your pension. Your will can also identify who you have chosen to act as a guardian for your children should they be underage when you pass, or enable you to leave something to your chosen charity. Don’t neglect preparing even a basic will – it will help make the probate process much quicker and lessen the burden on your loved ones at what will already be a difficult time.
Assuming your estate is too simple
Another common misconception. In truth, no one’s estate is ever as simple as they may think and there is always a chance that something, or someone, can complicate things. Without a will setting out your express wishes of how you want to divide your estate, regardless of how little you may think you have, this could just be playing into the hands of those who want to lay claim to your assets, or complicate the division of assets when the time comes.
Not updating your will
Keeping your will up to date is very important. Did you know that if you marry your existing will becomes void? Marriage, divorce, having children, or the death of a spouse or beneficiary will change things so your will needs to reflect how your circumstances, wishes, and needs change as well.
Not considering your digital assets
In today’s virtual world it’s easy to forget that many of our valuables are digital rather than stored in a drawer or box. You don’t need to be a professional photographer to own a sizeable photo library, and a YouTube or Instagram account that forms part of your business can be a valuable element of your estate. Keep them in mind when preparing your will and make sure to include provisions for what you want to happen to them.
Not planning for inheritance tax
You can reduce the amount of inheritance tax paid by your beneficiaries by including certain gifts within your will. While you will need to seek advice on this to ensure you get the best deal for you and your loved ones, it can be a good way of reducing the financial burden on them at a later date.
Need help writing your will or managing probate? Talk to us at IWC Probate Services and we can help you out. We are on the end of the phone for an informal discussion or you can make an appointment by calling or emailing us on 020 8017 1029 or firstname.lastname@example.org when you are ready.