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Mrs Taw of Farnborough



Protecting Your Estate

Thanks to the improvements in medical science and general health and fitness, we are all living longer. Not surprisingly however, few of us have considered the implications of this for our hard earned savings and investments and crucially our home. Most of us assume that once we have cleared any debts or mortgages and paid our taxes, what is ours is ours; thus we are free to do whatever we want with our property before eventually leaving our estate to our children.

Unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth. When all assets including our homes, savings, investments pensions are aggregated together, most people can easily have an estate that amounts to over one hundred thousand pounds. However whilst it is wonderful to reflect on a job well done and feel proud that you will leave to you children a good inheritance; unless careful planning is made these assets can be dissipated in any number of ways. Our life's work is diminished, and our loved ones receive a fraction and often nothing at all of what we had originally imagined.

In our experience the six main dangers that are threaten estates are :

Long-Term Care Fees:

It has been estimated that up to 100,000 homes are sold annually to pay for Care Home Fees. Most people are devastated to see the home that they have worked so hard to pay for sold from under their feet. Not surprisingly this issue has generated intense media coverage and debate from all sides of the political arena. However with the number of pensioners set to increase dramatically in the coming years and the number of workers declining at an equally frightening rate it is hard to see an obvious and acceptable funding solution from the government. How your estate is arranged is crucial in deciding which of your assets are vulnerable to the local authority's means testing.

Probate:

As estates become larger and larger their administration becomes more and expensive. Whilst the introduction of the transferable inheritance tax allowance has taken many families out of taxable range of the government it has increased the complexity and significance of the whole probate process. Getting it wrong can cost a family tens of thousands of pounds. Consequently professional probate practitioners are increasingly used. Keeping assets out of probate can save a lot of money whilst allowing quick and easy transfer to dependent beneficiaries.

Sideways Disinheritance:

Remarriage has the effect of invalidating any previous wills that have been made, making any new spouse or civil partner the principle beneficiary in preference to any children from earlier relationships. The is an increasingly common occurrence in society causing incredible bitterness and distress.

Children's Problems:

If your children have perhaps an unstable marriage or financial problems their inheritance may merely pass through them on the way to an ex-spouse or creditor.

Incapacity:

Unfortunately and unpalatable as we all age arranging your affairs to be flexible and secure enough to deal with such an eventuality is eminently sensible. Failure to do so can prove extremely expensive whilst depriving ourselves any influence in proceedings.

Dependent Relatives Claims:

Whilst nobody has a definite right to inherit. "The Family and Dependent's Act" does give an opportunity to claim even if it may seem somewhat spurious. It can often be easier and less painful to settle rather than defending your case in a Court of Law.

These are all issues that potentially can and do cost families tens of thousands of pounds that was originally intended to be left to our loved ones.

N.B: WE HAVE A CHOICE!

As with everything: forewarned is forearmed.

Option 1: Do nothing and wait for one or several of these issues to confront us and pay up.

Option 2: Unpalatable as it may seem; consider in advance and plan for these possibilities.

For most things in life cost and choice are closely related to the amount of time we have to make a decision. The wisest and most efficient course of action is very rarely chosen under pressure. Prevention is invariably better and cheaper than attempting to cure a problem after it has arisen.

How we arrange our estate is a crucial factor and has a massive influence on how these issues affect our estate and thereby how much is eventually left to our loved ones.