Sovereign Estate Planning https://sovereignestateplanning.co.uk/ Tue, 24 May 2022 14:13:21 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.4.3 Why it’s important to include your Digital Assets in your Will https://sovereignestateplanning.co.uk/why-its-important-to-include-your-digital-assets-in-your-will/ Tue, 24 May 2022 14:13:11 +0000 https://sovereignestateplanning.co.uk/?p=2594 New research by the Law Society states that around 25% of those who were surveyed know what happens to their digital assets when they die – so what about the other 75%? What is a Digital Asset? In a nutshell, a digital asset is anything that is stored online and comes with a right to […]

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New research by the Law Society states that around 25% of those who were surveyed know what happens to their digital assets when they die – so what about the other 75%?

What is a Digital Asset?

In a nutshell, a digital asset is anything that is stored online and comes with a right to use. All accounts you open online such as email, social media, photo and video storage, domain names, websites, and documents you create and store digitally are your digital assets. In most cases these accounts will be password and 2-FA protected and only you will have access to them. But what happens if you die – you may well be the only person who knew they existed?

Digital Assets with a monetary value

You may not be that bothered about the general accounts listed above, but you may have to think a little deeper about how you protect digital assets with a financial value. Like what you ask? Like the balance on your PayPal, eBay or Vinted accounts, gaming credits, any Crypto/Bitcoin and digital intellectual property. You may need to instruct your Will Writer accordingly so that your beneficiaries can access those funds. There is a grey area of course when it comes to some accounts, such as iTunes and Amazon Kindle as you are essentially leasing the content, not buying it. You can bequeath your iPod or Kindle hardware in your Will, but not the contents stored on them. This opens up a whole legal can of worms around your ISP agreement.

Protecting your accounts on social platforms

We probably use them every day; upload photos, share memories, tag our friends, make new and lasting connections with long-lost friends and family. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter hold a lot of personal and often financial information, especially if your business is linked to your personal account. It may be worth considering how these accounts and the data they hold will be dealt with in the event of your death. It would be prudent to state who should have access to them, rather than leaving them on the www indefinitely. Often social media accounts are shut down but by leaving clear instructions they can instead be ‘memorialised’.

What happens if I do nothing?

If you die before detailing any of your digital assets in your Will, it could be possible for your beneficiaries to only find the wider-used accounts they know of and close them down. This may go against your wishes. Conversely, any accounts with a financial value such as Cryptocurrency would be very hard to find and access unless you have left specific instructions in your Will.  If you have a family-run business or business partner and associated website, the domain name could expire if the fees linked to the account are in your name, causing the website to be taken down.

Here at Sovereign Wills and Estate Planning, we know how to protect your more visible financial assets as well as the ones your beneficiaries can’t see or don’t even know about. The first step is to clearly identify your digital assets and keep a record of them and begin digital asset succession planning. We’ll ensure that your final wishes are carried out as you want when we draw up a new Will or review your existing Will.

If you’d like to find out more about protecting all of your assets through Wills, estate planning and trusts, contact Sue Byrne for a free no obligation call to see how we can help.

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How making a will can benefit your family https://sovereignestateplanning.co.uk/how-making-a-will-can-benefit-your-family/ Tue, 24 May 2022 14:08:19 +0000 https://sovereignestateplanning.co.uk/?p=2591 Your last will and testament is a legal document that allows you to decide what happens to your estate after you die. By not having one in place can make it very difficult for the loved ones you leave behind. If you are considering making a will for the first time to protect your family […]

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Your last will and testament is a legal document that allows you to decide what happens to your estate after you die. By not having one in place can make it very difficult for the loved ones you leave behind.

If you are considering making a will for the first time to protect your family after your passing, it’s incredibly important to get it right using the right legal support. You can do it yourself, but in our experience, you’re best using a professional will-writer; if you don’t prepare your will properly, it may not be valid.

The main advantages of having a will in place means that your final wishes will be carried out exactly how you want them, including but not exclusive to:

  • Instructions for which family members or friends will inherit your estate, fully or partially.
  • What kind of funeral you would like to have.
  • How your personal possessions should be distributed.
  • Who should look after your children under 18, if you have any.
  • Any legacy you wish to leave to a charity.

59% of UK adults don’t have a will in place – that’s potentially 39 million deceased people the courts will have to deal with in order to distribute an estate according to the rules of intestacy. Dying without a will will most certainly affect your loved ones, and here at Sovereign Wills and Estate Planning, we want to relieve families of the added stress that brings.

Our top 5 reasons for making a will are:

  1. Name a guardian for your children

Many people think that if they die, and there is no other surviving parent, any children under the age of 18 will automatically be looked after by members of the family such as grandparents or siblings. This is not the case. The decision on who looks after your children when you are gone is down to the family courts. Please don’t leave this to chance; legally name a guardian in your will for your child’s sake.

  1. Common-law wife or husband is a myth

No matter how long you have been with your partner, unless you are married, they will not automatically inherit upon your death. By making a will, you are ensuring that they will be taken care of and that your estate will not pass directly to any blood relatives.

  1. Safeguard your step-children and family home

If your home is shared with your step-children, they will not automatically inherit and could possibly lose the roof over their heads. In a will you can leave them a share of the property or stipulate a right to reside in the property, giving them peace of mind. 

  1. Every family has one!

At a time of a loved one’s death, people you haven’t seen in years can often reappear. If a will is in place that clearly details your wishes there can be no room for family squabbles and unpleasantness. By making a will, you can head off any potential disputes and expensive court hearings if someone choses to challenge your final wishes.

  1. Be Inheritance Tax smart

Estate planning is a vital part of writing your will. By seeking the advice of an estate planning specialist, you could ensure that the way you divide your assets upon your death incur the least amount of inheritance tax. We are happy to offer our expert advice on this area of your estate planning.

Sovereign Wills & Estate Planning has the knowledge, expertise and legal experience to make sure that your wishes are taken care of when you pass away. We will work with you to protect your estate and your loved ones. For a friendly, free and informal chat about how we can help you, give us a call today.

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Should I make a Will if I get divorced and what happens I don’t? https://sovereignestateplanning.co.uk/should-i-make-a-will-if-i-get-divorced-and-what-happens-i-dont/ Thu, 12 May 2022 16:13:35 +0000 https://sovereignestateplanning.co.uk/?p=2470 If you’ve recently divorced or dissolved your civil partnership, updating your Will should be your top priority – unless of course, you want your ex to inherit? Many people simply assume that by getting divorced any Will made whilst still married automatically becomes invalid. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case and not making a new Will […]

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If you’ve recently divorced or dissolved your civil partnership, updating your Will should be your top priority – unless of course, you want your ex to inherit?

Many people simply assume that by getting divorced any Will made whilst still married automatically becomes invalid. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case and not making a new Will could lead to serious consequences for your estate.

Divorce doesn’t revoke a Will. Any current Will remains valid, but in terms of any inheritance, your ex is treated as if they had died when your marriage or civil partnership was dissolved. They will no longer be able to benefit from your estate unless you have specifically stated otherwise. They can no longer act on your behalf as Executor or Trustee either.

If your Will hasn’t been updated to reflect your new marital status, you risk your estate being shared differently to how you imagine it would. With your ex’s name being unchanged following divorce, the Rules of Intestacy come into play and this means that whatever your ex was going inherit would then be passed on to your next beneficiary.  If you don’t update your Will after divorce, your estate could be treated as if you never had a Will at all. In these circumstances, the courts will decide which relatives will inherit from you in strict order of priority. This is something that you may not want to happen and it could certainly jeopardise any inheritance you’ve got planned for the rest of your family especially for new partners or other dependants.

What happens if we are just separated but still legally married? Can I exclude my spouse from my Will?

Yes. You can leave your estate to whoever you want to. If you separate, but are still legally married, then your Will remains valid and your spouse will be entitled to inherit as set out in the terms of the Will. If you don’t want your spouse to inherit, but you are not legally divorced, then it’s important to write a new Will stipulating your new wishes and it would be wise to inform your executors in case your spouse decides to make a claim under the Inheritance Act.

What happens to my old Will if I remarry?

Should you remarry after divorce, any existing Will you had in place will be revoked altogether unless you wish otherwise – which is rare! If you don’t make a new Will and you die, then your estate will be dealt with by the Rules of Intestacy as mentioned above, leaving your new spouse unprotected.

Here at Sheryl Perry Solicitors we are experts in getting you the divorce you need, but we don’t just leave it there. We want you and your family to be as protected as possible and that’s why we when we undertake a divorce on your behalf, we sever any tenancy to ensure your ex cannot benefit by survivorship, only through a valid Will. We also have the added expertise of partnering with Sovereign Wills and Estate Planning to ensure that your Will reflects your wishes in the next stage of your life.

If you are considering divorce or just starting proceedings, we are here to help and welcome you to arrange an informal consultation with Sheryl Perry, our divorce expert and/or Sue Byrne from Sovereign Wills and Estate Planning to protect your estate and your beneficiaries.

Contact us today and make an appointment on 01245 463243 or email sheryl.perry@sherylperrysolicitors.uk

To contact Sue Byrne at Sovereign Wills and Estate Planning call 01245 460383 or email sue@sovereignestateplanning.co.uk

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The Rules of Intestacy; what happens if you die without leaving a Will? https://sovereignestateplanning.co.uk/the-rules-of-intestacy-what-happens-if-you-die-without-leaving-a-will/ Wed, 19 May 2021 11:45:46 +0000 https://sovereignestateplanning.co.uk/?p=1312 When someone dies without leaving a valid Will, this is known as dying intestate. Their estate is then distributed in accordance with the latest Intestacy Rules which were updated in 2020 and these rules often leave those who should be provided for without any inheritance. As set out in the Inheritance and Trustees’ Power Act, the rules […]

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When someone dies without leaving a valid Will, this is known as dying intestate.

Their estate is then distributed in accordance with the latest Intestacy Rules which were updated in 2020 and these rules often leave those who should be provided for without any inheritance.

As set out in the Inheritance and Trustees’ Power Act, the rules determine who inherits your estate based on family connections and not your final wishes. The rules only take into account spouse and blood lines and do not give consideration to the closeness of your other relationships, or who needs it most. The Rules will distribute your estate to your family members in a strict order, depending on which relatives are left behind.

Making a complete Will is always the best way to make sure that your loved ones are fully protected in the event of your death. Any assets falling outside of your Will will then be directed by Intestacy Rules.

Our current Intestacy Rules only apply to a person who has lived and died in England or Wales as Scotland has its own more ‘flexible’ Intestacy Rules.

So what are the Intestacy Rules in England and Wales?

  • The Rules of Intestacy came into force on 1st October 2014.
  • Under these Rules, when someone dies leaving a spouse or civil partner but no surviving children, then the estate is paid to the spouse or civil partner absolutely.
  • If someone dies leaving a spouse AND surviving children then their estate is divided as follows:
  • The Government made a change on 6th February 2020, whereby the Statutory Legacy increased from £250,000.00 to £270,000.00 which means that the surviving spouse or civil partner will keep assets and all the personal possessions up to that value.
  • The surviving spouse civil partner will also receive an absolute interest in half of the remainder of the residuary estate.
  • The other half is then divided equally between any surviving children.

The increase in Statutory Legacy is a welcome one, but not one that should be relied upon in place of making a Will. There is no substitute for having a professional Will drafted especially when under the Rules of Intestacy unmarried partners will not inherit.

If the Intestacy Rules fails to make suitable provision from the deceased’s estate you may still be eligible to bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Making a valid Will is the only way to truly protect your loved ones. We’ve produced this handy list of scenarios that you may well need to make provision for that you may not have even considered:

Guardianship – appoint a legal guardian to look after your children should both parents die and the children are under 18.

Your children’s financial future – as well as saying who will raise your children, you can make plans to provide for their financial for education, daily living or a nest egg.

Provide for your dependents, including step-children and foster children – you may not have children of your own and want to provide for your dependents and your Will needs to name them.

Protect your partner if you’re unmarried – unmarried partners aren’t entitled to anything unless specified in your Will.

Protect your family home – if the home is in your name and you die without a Will, your unmarried partner and/or step-children may lose their home.

Prevent family disputes – where money is concerned can often lead to family arguments amongst those you leave behind. Make your wishes clear in your Will.

Avoid paying more inheritance tax – this is a huge minefield and something that should be reviewed to ensure you all pay as little tax as possible.

Protect your new spouse – when you divorce your existing will automatically become invalid in England and Wales leaving it open to Intestacy Rules.

Choose an executor – name someone you trust to deal with your affairs.

Protect your pets – some people love their pets more than people, so make provisions for your furry friends too.

Protect your digital assets – with most things online from digital accounts, music, photographs and websites, these can disappear if not accounted for as part of your Will.

Support a charity – leave a lasting legacy to a charity of your choosing.

If you’d like to talk to us about making a Will and avoiding the financial pitfalls of Intestacy Rules, then our team at Sovereign Wills and Estate Planning are here to help. Please feel free to contact us and let us draw up a professional and valid Will that will protect you and your loved ones, giving you complete peace of mind.

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Lasting Power of Attorney – I already have a Will, so do I need an LPA too? https://sovereignestateplanning.co.uk/lasting-power-of-attorney-i-already-have-a-will-so-do-i-need-an-lpa-too/ Tue, 20 Apr 2021 08:09:22 +0000 https://sovereignestateplanning.co.uk/?p=1242 The post Lasting Power of Attorney – I already have a Will, so do I need an LPA too? appeared first on Sovereign Estate Planning.

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Yes you do. Here at Sovereign Wills & Estate Planning we are always banging our drum about the importance of making a Will to take care of your affairs after you die – but we also know that setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney is just as vital to take care of your financial and health needs should you lose mental capacity.

  • It’s not a nice thought but what would happen to you, your family, your choices, your finances and everything else in your life if you were no longer in a position to deal with your own affairs?
  • If you had an accident that rendered you incapacitated or you developed dementia and quickly lost mental capacity to make the right decisions for yourself?
  • How would you and your loved ones cope?

By drawing up a Lasting Power of Attorney now, means that you still have control over your affairs if and when you need it most – in the future. If you become unwell or lose capacity, a Lasting Power of Attorney (from herein an LPA) means that you have given someone you trust the power to make right decisions about your money, health and care for you.

If you don’t have an LPA in place and you are over the age of 18, then we would strongly advise that you draw one up. LPAs are time-critical documents and you must have mental capacity when arranging one. If you know you have a deteriorating illness or feel you may lose mental capacity in the future, now is the time to act.

A Lasting Power of Attorney can assist with decisions around your finances and health and care when you are no longer in a position to make your own decisions. If you think you may have already made and signed an EPA (Enduring Power of Attorney), this would have been replaced by an LPA in October 2007, so it is worth getting it double checked; the Power should still exist but you may need further advice.

Who should I choose as my Attorney?

The person you choose must be over the age of 18 and needs to be someone you trust to make decisions for you. Most people select their spouse, partner, other family member or close friend. You can choose more than one Attorney, but you need to make it crystal clear how the decisions should be made.

 

Do I give my Attorney full power?

Not necessarily. If you only want the person you appoint to be able to deal with some matters and not others, you can. We can help you with this during the application process before you sign it.

What is the role of the Attorney?

The person you appoint as your Attorney will have the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf should you lose your mental capacity or you feel that you do not want to make personal decisions anymore. They will have access to your bank/building society accounts, manage your property affairs and sign for decisions around finances, medical and ongoing care. The Attorney has a duty of care to you and your financial accounts must be kept separate from theirs. All financial dealings must be recorded.

What will happen to me if I lose capacity and haven’t made an LPA?

If you don’t have an LPA or an EPA pre-2007 in place and you lose capacity, you will have to apply to the Court of Protection who will make an order about decisions on your finances, health or care, or appoint a deputy to act on your behalf. It is far safer, to appoint someone you trust while you still can.

Why are there two types of LPAs?

There are two variations of LPA – one for financial decisions and one for health and care. The Property and Financial Affairs LPA will apply if you still have capacity or have lost capacity; the Health and Welfare LPA, only comes into effect when you have lost capacity.

I think I need an LPA to safeguard me – what do I need to do?

It is advisable that you see a professional when it comes to drawing up an LPA as they will have the know-how you need to safely protect you in the future.

Sovereign Wills & Estate Planning has been dealing with LPAs for many years with many, many happy clients. We have the knowledge, expertise and legal experience to make sure that your wishes are taken care of should you lose capacity, giving you complete peace of mind no matter what the future holds.

For a friendly, free and informal chat about how we can help you, give us a call today.

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From mega-star to twinkling star – why we all need a Will https://sovereignestateplanning.co.uk/from-mega-star-to-twinkling-star-why-we-all-need-a-will/ Tue, 16 Feb 2021 12:01:48 +0000 https://sovereignestateplanning.co.uk/?p=1081 The post From mega-star to twinkling star – why we all need a Will appeared first on Sovereign Estate Planning.

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Even the famous, wealthy ones make the mistake of never drawing up a Will

When we’re flicking through glossy magazines and nosing into the private lives of the rich and famous or watching a Hollywood blockbuster on the telly, we assume that these ‘perfect’ people lead the perfect life; huge bank balances, luxury mansions, private jets, A-list friends and loved ones who want for nothing. I guess largely that’s true…until these superstars die without leaving a Will.

You only have to do a quick Google search and you will soon find out that celebs like Prince, Aretha Franklin, Barry White, James Brown, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and even Abraham Lincoln, who was actually a brilliant lawyer as well as 16th President of the USA, all died without leaving a Will, causing no end of issues and legal battles for the ones they left behind.

The most recent Hollywood star to die without leaving a Will is ‘Black Panther’ lead actor and playwright Chadwick Boseman who passed away aged 43 in August 2020 from colon cancer. Although Chadwick had suffered from this awful disease for 4 years and knew that his diagnoses was terminal, he still didn’t make a Will to protect his assets and family. It is still unclear as to why he never made a Will, which could have saved his family a lot of unwanted stress and even more heartache.

So what about our home-grown celebrities here in the UK?

Probably the most famous example we have is Amy Winehouse, who died of alcohol poisoning at the tender age of 27 back in 2011. At the time of her death she was divorced, so had no spouse nor any children and her estate was eventually awarded to her parents. But that wasn’t the end of it.

In 2019, 8 years after Amy’s death, her ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil made a £1.4 million claim on her estate saying that she wrote most of her best material whilst they were still together – even though he spent the majority of their short marriage in prison. He unsuccessfully demanded a lump hefty sum and a monthly allowance payment even though he openly admitted introducing an already-troubled Amy to heroin; absolutely heart breaking for her parents to have to deal with. In this instance, we can probably understand why Amy had no Will as she was young and at the height of her global success, but professional estate planning would have certainly protected her assets when needed, just showing you’re never too young to start planning.

Comedy genius Rik Mayall died unexpectedly from a heart attack in 2014 after returning home from his daily jog; a simple, routine activity that proved to be his last at the age of 56. Our much-loved Harlow-born stand-up comedian, actor and writer, responsible for many cult classic sitcoms including The Young OnesThe Comic Strip PresentsBlackadderFilthy Rich & Catflap, and Believe Nothing left behind an estate worth £1.2 million and his wife Barbara and their 3 children. It seemed that organising a Will was on his busy to-do list but that’s the one thing he never got around to writing.

As Rik died without leaving a Will, his assets pass in accordance with the laws of ‘intestacy’ (the legal set of rules which dictate who will receive your estate if you do not have a Will in place) and potentially some of his estate that was not held in joint names with his wife could have passed to blood relatives, leaving Barbara in a vulnerable position. Thankfully by being married, she had a rightful claim. But, what happens if you aren’t married, but in a relationship?

How could any of us forget Jill Dando, who was shot and killed on the doorstep of her own home in London in 1999? Aged just 37, Jill was one of our greatest newsreaders with the BBC and popular TV host on Holiday and ironically, Crimewatch. After spending the night with her fiancé, Alan Farthing, she returned home, was grabbed from behind, forced to the ground, then shot in the head with a 9mm calibre semi-automatic pistol; her murder shocked the nation. Jill died without leaving a Will, so the intestacy rules prevailed and because she hadn’t yet wed Alan, everything she owned which totalled £607k after debts and tax went to her Dad as her blood relative. Her fiancé who she was due to marry later that year, received nothing and had no rightful claim on her assets.

You may not be a global superstar or a home-grown TV celebrity, but it is so important to write a Will and not put it off for another day. By making sure your affairs are in order, means that you can provide for your loved ones without the added stress of creating bad blood and ensuing legal battles.

Don’t be fooled into thinking you have nothing to leave, you’d be surprised what assets you do accumulate over the years. Don’t think that it’s too expensive either, all you have to pay for is the Will writing as all other legal costs come out of your estate when the time comes. There really is no greater way to spend your money now than giving your family and loved ones complete peace of mind, after you’ve gone.

If you’d like to find out more about protecting your assets through Wills, estate planning and trusts or explore the benefits of pre-paid funeral plans, contact Sue Byrne for a free no obligation chat and see how we can help you.

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