March was Free Wills Month! Free Wills Month brings together a group of well-respected charities to offer members of the public aged 55 and over the opportunity to have their simple wills written or updated free of charge by using participating solicitors in selected locations around England and Wales.
Research by the Law Society* highlighted that only 64 per cent of people over the age of 55 have made their wishes clear in a will. That still leaves a significant proportion of this age group who haven’t made preparations to ensure their wishes are respected when they die. As well as ensuring your clients’ wishes are respected, an up-to-date will also avoids difficult decisions and legal complications for their loved ones.
Questions to ask your clients
As no one really knows when they’re going to die or what they’ll own at the time, having a professionally drafted will is very important. There are a number of questions your clients should consider:
- What would happen to their life cover if it paid out?
- Do they have an effective will in place?
- Do they understand what happens to the life cover if it’s subject to the rules of intestacy?
- Do they understand the intestacy rules?
Having the conversation about protection and putting plans in trust will also make it easier for you to talk about wills.
You could ask your clients:
- Who’ll get your property after your death?
- Who would look after your children if you died?
- How will your children’s upbringing be paid for?
There are other things to think about too, like whether the property should be held in trust for the children until they become adults. And whether the guardians should also be the trustees of the children’s fund.
You can ask your client if they’d want to minimise any inheritance tax bill. Inheritance tax can be charged if their assets come to more than £325,000 (for the current tax year 2015/2016). They can reduce this with a well drafted will.
Without a will, your client’s property might not go to the person they want it to when they die.
Unmarried couples will have no automatic rights to the other’s property on death. Even if your clients are married, without a will, the surviving spouse may get less than they expect.
How we can help
Free Wills Month gives you a great opportunity to talk to your clients about putting a will in place as well as related topics such as trusts and guardianship (you should also watch out for Will Aid month in November and Will Relief Scotland in September). Our good parent portfolio contains a number of sales aids that show who would benefit if your clients die without leaving a will in England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. It also has sections dedicated to setting up trusts and dealing with issues of guardianship.
We also have a range of short films in our video library.
*http://www.lawsociety.org.uk, October 2014
Ross Jackson, Senior Protection Marketing Manager