Do I need to plan my estate if I don’t have children?
The importance of a Will and planning for the future is often discussed when you have children, but if you do not have children, do you still need to plan your estate?
Why plan my estate?
If you do not have children, it is just as important to ensure your affairs are in order. You still need to decide who benefits from your estate, when the inevitable happens. People without children often leave their estate to family members, friends and/or charities.
If you do not write a Will before you die, the law classifies you as dying ‘intestate’. This means the law will determine to whom your estate (all your belongings and assets owned in your sole name) goes to, and that might not be in line with your wishes.
It could also result in your estate paying more Inheritance Tax than necessary, benefitting the government rather than the people or charities you care about.
Estate planning is not just the wealthy; everyone should have a plan in place.
Here are some of the things you may wish to consider.
Choosing your executor/s – your executor/s will be responsible for ensuring the instructions in your Will are carried out and for the winding up of your estate. This can be a friend, family member or your solicitor.
Deciding to whom your belongings will go – you may like to make a list of belongings that you own and decide on specific people to inherit these items from you. Lists often include cars, jewellery and furniture that are of significant importance to you.
Making charitable gifts - you may wish to make a charitable gift that will support the charities you feel strongly about. By doing so, you can cut the amount of tax you pay by leaving money to charity, so it is worth discussing charitable donations with your solicitor, particularly if your estate is worth more than the inheritance tax threshold (currently £325,000 in Jan 20).
Who will look after your pets - your pets will be an important part of your life and very much part of your family. You can create a gift in your will that leaves your pet/s to a particular person and can also choose to leave a cash gift to cover the cost of caring for your pet/s.
A Will reflects your wishes and it is the best way for your instructions/wishes to be heard after you’re gone.
Lasting Powers of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) ensures that if you become unable to make decisions for yourself, someone can step in and make these decisions on your behalf.
If you do not have an LPA in place and you suffer and accident or injury that results in you no longer having the capacity to make decisions for yourself, an application will need to be made to the Court of Protection. These applications are more expensive and can take up to six months to get approved; during this time no one will have the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf.
Having a Will and Lasting Powers of Attorney in place ensures that your wishes are taken care of and that inheritance tax is kept to the minimum.