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Wills & Estate FAQs

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Below are some Wills & Estate FAQs we receive, however, if you are unsure about anything specific or related to estate planning please do not hesitate to contact us.

1. In which country will I pay inheritance tax?
2. What constitutes my estate?
3. Do I have to list everything that I own in my estate?
4. What's the difference between and executor and a trustee?
5. Do I have to appoint a solicitor or bank as my trustees?
6. Does it matter if my executors live abroad?
7. Is there a limit to how many executors I can choose?
8. What is required of an executor?
9. What will happen if I die without a will?
10. How will having a life insurance policy impact my estate planning and will it be taxed?
11. How can a will protect my children?
12. How can I ensure my disabled child is protected?
13. What is joint tenancy?
14. If my marital status or partner changes, how can I change the ownership of my property?
15. Who manages my will writing process?
16. Am I free to change my will at a later date if my circumstances change?
 

1. In which country will I pay inheritance tax?
If you are British but no longer resident in the U.K. and you own property in the UK and/or abroad i.e. U.K. domiciled, the British tax man will be entitled to claim inheritance tax (IHT) on your worldwide assets. The current rate of IHT is 40% if your estate is worth over £325 000 (double for married couples). However, Pryce Warner offer various estate planning solutions that will help you minimise IHT and in come cases circumvent it entirely.

2. What constitutes my estate?
Property and everything you own minus any outstanding debts or money owed (mortgages) will be considered your estate. There are many complicated exemptions and inclusions that will depend on your circumstances. Contact one of our advisors for more information.

3. Do I have to list everything that I own in my estate?
No, only specific objects, collections or even amounts of money you want to go to particular people, or items/collections that are especially valuable.

4. What's the difference between an Executor and a Trustee?
The trustee is the person responsible for making the decisions that maintain the estate whilst it is held on trust before it is given to the beneficiaries. The executor is the person that carries out the wishes of the trustees during this period.

5. Do I have to appoint a Solicitor or Bank as my Trustees?
Anyone can be a trustee. However it is likely that when your estate is going through probate you will require some professional assistance. For this reason we recommend your will includes a clause that empowers your trustee to hire any professionals not previously nominated (If the appointed trustee is not a professional).

6. Does it matter if my Executors live abroad?
No, but for practical reasons it is best to appoint an executor(s) that reside in the same country as you.

7. Is there a limit to how many Executors can I choose?
You are allowed to appoint as many executors as you wish, but the law only allows four to act at the same time.

8. What is required of an executor?
The main role of an Executor is to carry out the wishes of the testator's estate. For more details please contact one of our advisors.

9. What will happen if I die without a will?
In this instance your family would need to choose a representative to approach probate, obtain and grant of letters of administration and ensure someone is appointed as the administrator for your estate. Your estate would then be distributed under the rules intestacy, which are very strict.

In this instance the law would not consider any wishes the deceased may have had, even if those wishes appeared obvious or were written down other than in a properly executed will. In fact, even an incorrectly executed will can be interpreted as constituting that the deceased had changed his/her mind as to whom the beneficiaries should be.

10. How will having a life insurance policy impact my estate planning and will it be taxed?
Life insurance/assurance falls outside of your estate and is not eligible for IHT. These types of policies can often be a good way to provide liquidity to pay for IHT and other expenses your beneficiaries may incur.

11. How can a Will protect my children?
In cases where both parents die before the children reach 18 and no will was left the courts will issue an order as to who will have custody of your children and how your assets should be invested. If you have children under 18 there are two provisions you can make if you wish that they be in control of your affairs.

The first is to nominate who you want to act as their legal guardians. The law stipulates that only one person need be nominated but it is common to appoint two, either grandparents or friends who are partners. You have the option to decide whether they will be jointly responsible or if you want one to be the first choice and the second a reserve.

The second part is to appoint a trustee(s) to manage your assets for the benefit of the children should both parents die before they reach age 18. For the sake of simplicity it is best to appoint a guardian as the trustee.

The trust created in the will should grant powers to the trustees to manage the funds for the benefit of the children the same way you would wish if you were still alive. This can include payments for items such as schooling and the provision of housing. It also may be necessary to make provisions for financial support of the guardians.

If you have young children it is highly important to consider these options and seek further advice, otherwise all arrangements will be dictated by the courts.

12. How can I ensure my disabled child is protected?
This matter is highly complex and therefore it is best to contact an advisor directly. The best option will vary according to many factors, not least the exact nature of the disability.

13. What is joint tenancy?
A joint tenancy means all parties that have signed the agreement own the property jointly and upon death the property automatically transfers to the surviving parties. What this usually means is that upon the death of one partner the family home purchased jointly will transfer to the surviving partner.

14. If my marital status or partner changes, how can I change the ownership of my property?
Switching ownership from joint tenancy to tenants in common requires a notice of severance of joint tenancy and needs to be signed by all parties.

In cases where a property is registered under only one partner of a couple, the property will need to be transferred into both names before the above can take place. This is a fairly simple transaction with only minimal costs compared to the long-term benefits.

15. Who manages my will writing process?
We appreciate that the process of setting up one's estate can be highly personal. For this reason we like to provide a one-to-one service so that you feel as confident as possible that your wishes will be carried out to the letter.

16. Am I free to change my will at a later date if my circumstances change?
Unfortunately it is not possible to amend or change a will once it has been approved. If your circumstances change and you wish to re-write your will you need to cancel the existing one and then create a new one with the relevant changes.