What is my estate?

Your estate is everything which you own from your largest asset to the smallest. The size and composition of your estate changes as you buy and sell things, such as property or investments. Good estate planning can future proof your ever-changing estate and ensure the best outcomes for you and your loved ones.

What is a Will?

Your last will and testament is a legal written document that specifies where and who you want to have your property and possessions – known as your ‘estate’ –  in the event of your death.

What happens when someone passes without a Will?

If a person dies without creating a will, their estate is automatically passed on according to the Laws of Intestacy (perhaps link to a nice image of an intestacy tree?) 

Fortunately, there are methods to ensure that an estate is distributed according to a person’s wishes after their death. Having the right estate plan in place will also help ensure the correct beneficiaries inherit an estate. In some circumstances it can also help to reduce the amount paid in taxes and legal fees.

What is an Executor?

An executor is a person named in a will who sorts out the estate of the person who’s died. 

What is a Beneficiary?

A beneficiary is someone who receives something in a will. This could be a sum of money, property, land, or a particular item. A beneficiary can be a spouse, relative, friend or even a charity or organisation.

Can a Beneficiary also be an Executor?

Yes, provided that they are over 18 years of age.

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney (sometimes referred to as an “LPA”) is a legal document allowing the person creating it (the donor) to appoint one or more people as attorneys to make decisions on their behalf. 

There are two types of LPA – health and welfare, and property and financial. A health and welfare LPA allows an attorney to act if the donor has lost capacity. It covers aspects of a person’s care, diet, medical needs, and living arrangements. 

A property and financial affairs LPA deals with money and property and can be used when you the donor still has full mental capacity. 

To create any LPA, the donor must be over the age of 18 and of sound mind at the time of creation.

What happens if a person does not have a Lasting Power of Attorney?

When someone becomes unable to make decisions for themselves and in the absence of LPA, then the only way a family member (or other appointed person) can take control of their property and financial affairs, or health and welfare, will be to go through the Court of Protection. 

This could make it difficult for your wishes to be carried out, should you lose the capacity to express them for yourself.

*I think we should write a blog about Court of Protection applications. Stuff like this can happen when it’s left to chance – 100 people held more than 20 years in ‘institutions’ – BBC News

What is Inheritance Tax?

Inheritance Tax (sometimes referred to as “IHT”) is a tax calculated based on the value of a deceased person’s estate – the property, money, and possessions – minus certain liabilities and allowances. 

The law surrounding IHT is complex and subject to change.

What is a Trust?

A trust is a legal arrangement by which assets are held for a beneficiary on behalf of a trustee. The trustee or beneficiary can be one or more individuals, or a company and the trustee and beneficiary can be the same person or company.

Below are some circumstances in which a Trust may be useful:

• If a beneficiary is not able to manage the assets a person wants them to inherit at the time you set up the trust. For example – a property left to a child should be placed in trust.

• To help a person’s beneficiaries pay inheritance tax, to cover the amount to be paid.

• To set aside money with yourself as the beneficiary, ensuring that your money is used to look after you if you are unable to look after yourself.

Are there different types of Trust?

There are many types of trust, and the type a person should choose depends on what they want it to do. Setting up a basic trust can be quite simple, although others are much more complex, professional help is always advisable.

Some trusts can be written into a Will to come into effect upon a person’s death.


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