No will? Your fam­ily will in­herit a night­mare

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - MONEY -

In­creas­ingly tricky fam­ily set-ups could leave mil­lions fac­ing fi­nan­cial penal­ties if rel­a­tives die with­out writ­ing a will, finds Harry Brennan

Mil­lions of peo­ple are pil­ing pres­sure on their fam­i­lies by not get­ting their af­fairs in or­der be­fore they die. Many do not even make a will, leav­ing be­reaved rel­a­tives to un­tan­gle their es­tates. If some­thing goes wrong, it is the ad­min­is­tra­tor – typ­i­cally a close fam­ily mem­ber or friend who makes sure as­sets are passed to the right peo­ple – who is re­spon­si­ble and fi­nan­cially li­able, even if they have hired a solic­i­tor for help.

Over half of the adult pop­u­la­tion of Bri­tain, more than 29 mil­lion peo­ple, have not writ­ten a will, ac­cord­ing to Di­rect Line, the in­surer. Those aged be­tween 18 and 34 are the most likely not to have made pro­vi­sions – 71pc have no will. How­ever, 34pc of those aged over 55, close to seven mil­lion peo­ple, also have no writ­ten in­struc­tions for how their legacy should be passed on. This means that if any of those over-55s were to die to­mor­row, their wealth would be sub­ject to the rules of in­tes­tacy.

These rules say that the es­tate must pass to the clos­est sur­viv­ing kin: spouses first, up to £250,000; then chil­dren; then grand­chil­dren; then any sur­viv­ing par­ents; then sib­lings; and so on down the line of rel­a­tives. If you have no sur­viv­ing fam­ily, the es­tate goes to the Crown.

How­ever, ex­perts have warned that in­creas­ingly com­plex fam­ily ar­range­ments, with rel­a­tives of­ten liv­ing abroad, mean iden­ti­fy­ing the next of kin is not al­ways sim­ple.

Tele­graph Money reader Paul Ward, 71, is pur­su­ing a claim against the ad­min­is­tra­tor of his late fa­ther’s es­tate – a dis­tant cousin who is now on the hook for al­most £30,000.

Mr Ward was born Paul Doo­ley in 1947. His par­ents di­vorced four years later and he sub­se­quently lost con­tact with his fa­ther, chang­ing To ease the bur­den on your fam­ily, you can leave be­hind a box or folder of key doc­u­ments. Gavin Holt of fu­neral provider Co-op sug­gests the fol­low­ing:

Your will

Keep the orig­i­nal with your solic­i­tor, but have a copy to hand.

House deeds

Again, keep the orig­i­nal with a pro­fes­sional, but make a copy for your records.

Fi­nan­cials

In­for­ma­tion on bank ac­counts, pen­sions, Isas and di­rect share hold­ings should all be avail­able so that your fam­ily can add up your as­sets cor­rectly.

Debts

Equally, out­stand­ing debts or lines of credit should be in­cluded.

Dig­i­tal life

Make sure you keep a list of all the on­line ac­counts, such as email and so­cial me­dia, that will need to be closed down. You could also in­clude pass­words to pro­vide ac­cess to dig­i­tal as­sets such as mu­sic and films.

Gifts and loans

If you have made gifts or loans, even in­for­mally, you should keep a list record­ing the de­tails. This will help your fam­ily when they are fill­ing out in­her­i­tance tax forms.

Ad­vice

If you have ever re­ceived pro­fes­sional ad­vice on tax plan­ning for death, in­clude the con­tact de­tails of the firm you used, and note down any steps you have taken.

Amer­i­can soul le­gend Aretha Franklin, seen at a New York Aids gala in 2017, died in Au­gust with­out leav­ing a will

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