Inheritance is a very complex area. Unfortunately, disinheritance can occur unknowingly for many reasons. What’s more, the probate process can be prolonged and very costly, if your estate has not been organised in the right way.
Disinheritance: preventing someone from having the legal right to receive your money or property after you die.
Have you considered all of the people you would like to inherit from your estate? Your estate comprises of property, money and possessions – it also includes vehicles and any business interests too. If you have children and you’ve recently remarried, or you’re unmarried living with a long-term partner, disinheritance can be a real risk. To explain this more clearly, let’s look at an example:
Jane and John
Jane and John have been married for twenty years. They have two children: Jack and Jill. Unfortunately, John passes away before writing a Will and his entire estate goes to Jane. Jane remarries. Her new husband is called Steve. Steve also has two children: Sarah and Sam. When John was alive, he had hoped that the family home would go to Jack and Jill, his children with Jane. However, as Jane has now remarried, the family home and estate is now shared between Jane and Steve. If Jane dies without writing a Will, the family home and her estate would be passed to Steve, and then onto Sarah and Sam. As a result, Jack and Jill could be disinherited from the family estate.
To avoid disinheritance issues, you can organise your estate in several ways. Making sure you have an up-to-date and legally recognised Will is a good starting point. If you have a complicated family situation, i.e. children from past marriages and new partners, you will need to make sure everybody you would like to inherit from you is recognised in your Will.
I’m not married!
If you are unmarried and living with a long-term partner, they will need to be recognised in your Will or they may lose out financially when you pass away. If you share a property and this is solely in your name, your partner could lose the right to live in your family home.
For advice on this and Wills in general, please speak to one of our financial planners.
A Will might not be enough…
There could be many risks to your estate that you haven’t even considered. One way of helping to secure your estate is by having a Trust. For example, a Family Protection Trust protects your estate by ensuring it is passed onto the people you name in the trust; this avoids disinheritance issues and can help to reduce Inheritance Tax (applies to estates worth over £325,000). Trusts can also be used to protect against care home fees and to reduce the cost of probate – for more advice on Trust planning, please speak to our team.
How does the Probate process work?
Most people will have to deal with probate at some stage. Any estates worth more than £5,000 will go through this process. When a person dies and if you have been named as the “Executor” of the Will, you will need to apply for a “grant of representation”, which is known as “probate”. This will give you the right legally to be able to deal with their estate. Otherwise, this would fall onto the deceased person’s next of kin. Sometimes people appoint a solicitor to do this on their behalf – talk to us for more information on this.
It is the responsibility of the Executor to collect all the assets from the estate (property, possessions, cars, money, etc.). They would also be expected to pay the Inheritance Tax bill and any remaining debts (including household bills). Lastly, the Executor would distribute the estate to people accordingly, i.e. passing any property, money or possessions to people named as “beneficiaries”. When you name an Executor in your Will, always check with them first to see if they are happy to do this for you.
For more information, please visit our Inheritance page.
If you are worried about disinheritance issues or you would like to discuss Wills and Trusts, please get in touch to speak to one of our financial planners.