The importance of Estate Planning in a modern world

Wills, trust & probate - KBL Solicitors

As time goes by, it is important to get your affairs in order and make your wishes known for what happens in the future. Professional advice and guidance is essential when it comes to planning, protecting and preserving your assets and putting certain provisions in place now offers peace of mind both to you and your loved ones.

One of the most important things you can do is make a Will. Most people appreciate that it is extremely important to make a Will but either never get around to it, continue to put it off on the basis that they are too young or it is too morbid to think about and it is something that they will do when they are much older. Statistics reveal that staggeringly, nearly two-thirds of UK adults do not have a valid Will in place and unfortunately some will die before they get around to making one. None of us are too young to make a Will and we all have assets to leave, and in most cases, dependants to provide for. By making a Will, you will determine who will receive your money and property rather than it being left to rules of law to decide, known as the Intestacy Rules. Also, it is fair to say that, worryingly, the Intestacy Rules are not very supportive of the increasingly complex family structures we see in the modern world we live in today.

The unfortunate outcome of an estate being subject to the Intestacy rules is highlighted in landmark High Court case, Scarle v Scarle [2019]. Elderly couple Mr & Mrs Scarle were found deceased at their bungalow in Essex, neither had made Wills yet they owned their property as joint tenants and a joint bank account containing £18,000. The Judge in this case had to determine the sequence in which the elderly parents of two stepsisters died in order to distribute the couple’s assets to the correct beneficiary. If it could be established that Mr Scarle died first his estate would pass briefly to Mrs Scarle and then onto her daughter however if Mrs Scarle were found to have died first the estate would pass to Mr Scarle and then onto his daughter. If it is impossible to establish the order of death s184 Law of Property Act 1925 creates a presumption that the deaths are to have occurred in order of seniority and therefore the younger shall be deemed to have survived the elder. This case which resulted in costly litigation for both parties reinforces the need to ensure legally drafted Wills are in place and upto date to reflect your wishes.

Once a Will is in place, you should aim to review your Will every year to check that it still reflects your wishes. Circumstances change, people die, children are born etc. Furthermore, certain events will affect an existing Will, marriage will revoke a Will unless specifically made in contemplation of that marriage. Divorce will generally remove the divorced spouse as a beneficiary depending upon the wording of the Will.

Alongside Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney are becoming more prevalent and a standard part of planning for the future. An LPA is a document that allows you to choose someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf regarding your property and affairs should you become unable to control your own affairs. Whilst every adult has the right to manage his or her own money and affairs, sometimes, our ability to do this decreases as we grow older. Whether this is caused by illness, disability, or an accident. Drawing up a Lasting Power of Attorney offers peace of mind and alleviates the stress and worry your family will face if you do become physically and mentally unable to control your own affairs, a situation nobody foresees.

At KBL Solicitors LLP, our specialist Solicitors have considerable experience in drafting every type of Will, from simple family Wills to more complex tax efficient Wills which minimise liability to inheritance tax. We’re here to help you make the right choices and plan for the future based on your own personal family circumstances. Over the years we have gained a unique understanding of the procedures and complexities involved in setting up processes to preserve and pass on your assets.

For confidential and personal advice contact Maria Lonergan or Chris Taylor in our Wills, Trusts & Probate department on 01204 527777 or at