Leaving Digital Assets in your Will

The world is an ever-changing place. In the past couple of decades, this is truer than ever, with the rise in popularity of the digital world. But did you know that you can leave digital assets in your Will?

Digital assets can be a way for your loved ones to remember you when you have passed away, through your online documents and social media presence. You can choose who to leave access to these to.

A survey commissioned by the Law Society found that 93% of those who have a will have not included any digital assets in it. Meanwhile, just a quarter of the 1,000 respondents knew what will happen to their digital assets after they die – with only 7% saying they fully understand.

This is why it is important that you fully understand all the assets you may have, including digital ones.

What Counts as a Digital Asset?

Digital assets include all of your online investments. Examples include:

  • Online accounts such as PayPal
  • Email accounts
  • Social media accounts
  • Blogs or websites in your name
  • Credit on sites such as points or vouchers
  • Virtual currency such as Bitcoin
  • Anything stored online such as Dropbox or the cloud
  • Virtual objects you own such as ebooks

With the rise in paperless statements digital assets will only get bigger and more documents will move online, so making sure you include these in your Will is important.

Why Are They Important?

With the growth of technology, more documents will undoubtedly move to a more online format, so naturally these assets will become more important as time goes on. As emails have become more widely used, there may be important documents that are stored in your emails, so someone would need access to your account to see the important documents.

They are also important in the process of probate. The first step of probate is your Executor valuing your estate. If your digital assets are not included, then they may not get an accurate value of your estate to give to your beneficiaries.

What Can you Do?

As your digital assets make up part of your estate, you should make a note of these when thinking about writing your Will. This can be anything from writing down all your accounts and passwords, to noting any accounts you have online which you may have accumulated points for.

Once you have done this, you can then decide if you would like to leave them to anyone in your Will. Due to the online world evolving, your solicitor can also help update your Will if you add or change any of these assets.

Contesting A Will Based on Digital Assets

If your Will is contested on the basis of digital assets and they are not recorded anywhere, then it may not be possible for your loved ones to receive everything you wished them to. This is another reason that adding them is important.

If you are contesting a Will based on the digital assets and you do not know where to turn for advice, then we may be able to help. The solicitors we work with have years of experience dealing with contesting Wills, and so may be able to assist you.

How We Can Help

Here at The Inheritance Experts we work with solicitors who deal with all manner of inheritance cases. This includes cases involving Will writing, updating, and assets. Contact us today by filling in our contact form, or by calling us on to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

Contesting a Will Time Limits

When it comes to contesting a Will, there are a few matters to think about. One of these is time limits. There are time limits to take into consideration when contesting a Will, and there is also the time it takes to do so.

Contesting A Will Time Limits

In general terms, you have until the executor is granted and they start to distribute the estate to contest a Will. There are exceptions to this rule, however. You may have longer to contest the Will if you are a beneficiary, for example, or if you believe there is fraudulent activity involved.

It is also possible to contest a Will after the executor has begun dividing the estate. The best way to determine this is by seeking legal advice as soon as possible.

There is also a time limit on making a claim after a person has passed away. This time limit is usually within 5 years of the person dying, but there may also be exceptions to this.

Contesting Probate Time Limits

Under The Inheritance Act, you only have six months to contest a Will after probate has been granted. A Grant of Probate is a legal document that clarifies the Executor of a Will, and confirms they have legal right to deal with the Estate. This means it is important to make your claim as soon as possible. If you can, it is best to make a claim before probate has been issued.

If you are one of the beneficiaries of the Will, you have 12 months to make a claim. There is no statutory time limit for probate disputes that involve fraud. These can include if the person who made the Will was not of sound mind, or they made their Will under influence.

If these time limits pass, it may still be possible to make a claim under The Inheritance Act. You must contact the court so they can grant permission for you to do this.

How Long does it take to Contest a Will?

There are several stages to contesting a Will, so it can be a lengthy process. The first stage is mediation, where the parties will try and come to an agreement. Mediation is almost always the most effective way to handle Will disputes, and the parties can usually come to an agreement.

If mediation does not work, the case may need to go to court. This will also lengthen the process, so solicitors always recommend mediation first.

There can also be other complications that lengthen the process, such as if a beneficiary dies before the testator of the original Will. In this case, their inheritance would become part of their own estate. This means that you would need to contest both Wills.

How We Can Help

Here at The Inheritance Experts, we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with all manner of claims. This includes contesting a Will, contesting Probate, and making claims under The Inheritance Act. Contact us today by filling in our contact form, or by calling us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

Writing A DIY Will

There are many things to consider when writing your Will. Whether to use a professional Will-writing service or write a DIY Will is one of the considerations. If you choose to write your own Will, there are a number of things you must do in order to make sure it is legally valid.

The most important thing that you need to do when writing your own Will is make sure you know what the law requires. If you do not do this correctly, your Will may be invalid or ineffective.

To be valid, a DIY Will, or holograph Will, as it is known in legal terms, must be executed in accordance with the requirements of section 9 of the Wills Act 1837. In this, the Will must be “Signed by the testator (the person making the Will) with the intention of it giving effect to their Will in the presence of two witnesses, who each sign the Will in the presence of the testator.” There are new rules due to the pandemic, which state you may now also use video witnessing for your Will.

You also need to be of sound mid to write your Will. It is important when writing your Will as it proves that what you write in your Will is what you actually want.

You must also make sure that, when you write your Will, you use terminology that is clear and avoids ambiguity in the eyes of the law. The Will must clearly state your wishes and you must use the correct terminology to avoid the Will being found to be invalid.

What Needs to go in a DIY Will?

If you choose to write your own Will, there are a number of things that you must include. These things are:

  • Your personal information (full name, current address, date of birth, details of any children you have and their dates of birth, relationship status)
  • Your estate (the items of value you own, either alone or joint with someone else. This includes property, accounts, stocks and shares, or any foreign property)
  • Any debts
  • Your beneficiaries (including the names and addresses of the beneficiaries)
  • If you wish to leave any gifts to charity
  • Your executors (you can choose one or more than one)
  • Legal guardians for your children (if you have any under 18)
  • Your other wishes (such as Trustees or funeral wishes)

If A DIY Will is Invalid

When a DIY Will is invalid, then the previous Will, if there was one, would be the legal Will. If there is no previous Will, then the Rules of Intestacy come into effect. These rules place family members in order of who should inherit your estate. This order is decided by the law.  It can also lead to lengthy legal disputes for families. So it is vital to make sure that your Will is written exactly how it would be if you used a professional Will-writing service.

How we can help

Here at The Inheritance Experts, we work with solicitors who have years of experience in dealing with all manner of inheritance cases. This includes issues with DIY Wills. Contact us today by filling in our contact form or by calling us on to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

Mental Capacity and Contesting A Will

For a Will to be legally valid, the person must have the required mental capacity at the time of writing. This is also known as being of sound mind. It is important for the person to be of sound mind to ensure that all of their wishes are carried out the way they want them to be.

Mental capacity and contesting a Will go hand in hand, as, if the person did not have the mental capacity to make their Will, then it is one of the stronger reasons to contest the Will. If you believe that they did not have the mental capacity to make or change their Will, then you may be able to contest the Will.

What is Mental Capacity?

Mental capacity, also known as testamentary capacity, means that the person must have the mental ability to understand what they are doing. They must also understand the impact that this will have on their estate and beneficiaries.

Because a lot of people make or change their Will later in life, they can have problems with mental capacity. It can be affected by many conditions and injuries.

Mental Capacity Examples

One of the most common diseases that may affect a person’s mental capacity is Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s Disease is known to affect the brain, and memory. So if a loved one was suffering Alzheimer’s, there is a chance that they may not have been of sound mind when the Will was written. Another example of a condition that may affect a person’s mental capacity is Dementia. If they were suffering from dementia, for example, you may be able to make a case that the last will is invalid.

Injuries can also affect a person’s mental capacity. Examples of this include brain injuries, which can happen at any point in someone’s life. Serious injuries can also affect mental capacity, as can mental illness.

Mental Capacity and Contesting A Will

There are a few reasons you may be able to contest a Will based on the person lacking mental capacity. These include:

  • If the Will contradicts earlier promises or agreements
  • The Will does not accurately reflect the deceased’s wishes
  • It does not provide for those expected, such as grandchildren
  • You know the deceased was suffering from a condition such as Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia

A mental capacity will contest is one of the stronger cases you can make for contesting a will. This is because when you do, there can be evidence they were not mentally well when the last will was made. In this case, the previous Last Will and Testament would instead be the valid Will.

To prove that the deceased lacked mental capacity when making their Will, a solicitor will get their medical records. They will then work with a medical expert. The medical expert can help determine the state of mind that the person was in when they made or changed their Will. This will help in contesting the Will.

How We Can Help

Here at The Inheritance Experts, we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with all manner of inheritance claims. This includes contesting a Will based on mental capacity. Contact us today by filling in our contact form, or by calling us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

Possible Inheritance Tax Increases

There may be Inheritance Tax increases on the way according to a report by the Express. This may be used in the effort to recover the economy following the COVID-19 pandemic. It is one of the proposed tax increases that the Chancellor could potentially be planning.

This tax increase could happen as the UK has once again entered recession, with a 20.4% contraction. There are several taxes that may increase as part of the chancellor’s plan, and inheritance tax is only one of them. We will therefore be keeping a close eye on what the chancellor says regarding this subject.

Inheritance Tax Increases

Inheritance Tax is an important factor when you are writing your Will. The current rules of inheritance tax are as follows:

  • There is usually no inheritance tax to pay if the value of your estate is below the threshold, which is currently £325,000.
  • You also do not need to pay if you leave everything above the £325,000 threshold to your spouse, civil partner, charity, or a community amateur sports club
  • Inheritance tax has a rate of 40%. This is only charged on the part of your state that is above the threshold.
  • If you donate more than 10% of the value of your estate to charity in your Will, then the inheritance tax may reduce to 36%.
  • When you leave your home to your children, stepchildren, adopted or fostered children, or grandchildren, the threshold for Inheritance Tax may increase to £500,000.

Some gifts that you give whilst you are still alive may also be taxed. This depends on when you gave the gift and what it states in your Will.
These may also rise in the potential new rates that the chancellor is considering, and it may affect you and your Will in different ways.

What the Inheritance Tax Increases May Mean for You

We do not know what the plan is for inheritance tax yet, and we also do not know when these rules may come in to force. However, they could affect a lot of people. The increases are likely to mean that your loved ones get less than you would like when you die. This is why it may be essential to speak to a legal expert to see what your options may be. There may also be changes to the threshold, which could also affect your Will.

Whilst there may not be anything you can do about the Inheritance Tax increases if and when they do happen, seeking legal advice may help you to understand the whole process of inheritance. It may also help you understand what the increase can mean for inheritance.

How We Can Help

Here at The Inheritance Experts, we work with solicitors who have years of experience in dealing with all manner of Inheritance matters. Contact us today by filling in our contact form, or call us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

LPAs During the Pandemic

COVID-19 has undoubtedly had an impact on everything in our lives. Making Lasting Power of Attorney (LPAs) during the pandemic was an aspect that the government needed to address. This is because the subject of Wills and other legal documents is likely to be on people’s minds during this time.

Why LPAs Are Important

A Lasting Power of Attorney document is a document which allows you to appoint people to make decisions for you. This is if you lose the mental capacity to make decisions for yourself. There are two types of LPA; a property and financial LPA and a health and welfare LPA. They are both important, as they allow people you trust to make decisions on your behalf regarding your finances, property, where you want to live, and how you would like to be cared for should you lose mental capacity.

Many people think that if they lose mental capacity, then their Next of Kin can make decisions for them. Unfortunately, that is not the case. If you do not have an LPA set in place, then your family have to go through a long application process for someone to be appointed your deputy. In this case, the law will choose someone to be the Deputy, so it is important that you have chosen someone already.

Changes in Making LPAs During the Pandemic

We reported earlier in the year when the government temporarily made video witnessing for Will writing legal due to the pandemic. This change will last for two years. The change was also backdated to include any Wills written from January 2020. Unfortunately the same rule is not in place for LPA documents, which has left a lot of people unable to make LPAs during the two lockdowns.

There have, however, been some changes when the lockdown restrictions lift. According to the government’s website, you can now make the documents. The LPAs can now be witnessed in a safe, socially distanced manner. This is in accordance with the tier guidelines that are currently in place up and down the country.

Rise in People Making LPAs During the Pandemic

There has been a rise in people making Wills due to the pandemic, and many of these people are also making LPAs. This is likely due to people now thinking about getting their affairs in order. The pandemic has affected many areas of our lives. So people are now focusing on making sure that they take care of everything the way they would like.

This rise has led people to start seeking out legal advice when it comes to making their LPAs. We may be able to help if you are also looking to get your affairs in order.

How We Can Help

Here at The Inheritance Experts, we work with solicitors who deal with all manner of inheritance cases. This includes Lasting Power of Attorney documents. They have years of experience dealing with inheritance matters. Contact us today by filling in our contact form, or call us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

Rise in Making A Will due to the Pandemic

Before the pandemic, less than half of UK adults had made a Will. This has since risen during COVID-19, with a rise in enquiries concerning making a Will of 75% since the start of the pandemic. The Financial Times reported in March that some law firms saw enquiries double in the first few weeks of lockdown.

This is no surprise as the worry of losing a loved one has been at the front of many minds during the pandemic. Many people may have also thought about making sure they care for their loved ones should something happen to them. Thus leading more people to think about making a Will.

Making A Will During the Pandemic

We reported back in August that video Will practices have now been made legal. This is a temporary measure until January 2022. This refers to the fact that it is now legal to have a witnessing of a Will made by video, by two witnesses. The video will witness news comes amidst an effort to limit the necessity of in-person witnessing of wills due to social distancing precautions. The temporary measures include any Will written from 31st January 2020

There are certain rules to this temporary amendment of the law. These rules include:

  • Making sure the audio and video are both clear
  • Ensuring that the witnesses can actually see them signing the Will
  • There must be a clear line of sight of the Will
  • Treat this option as a last resort

There are also some exclusions from the temporary change. You can find out more information about the temporary rules here.

Rise in Gifts Left to Charity in Wills

Not only has their been a rise in people making a Will, more people have been donating to charity in their Wills. This could be thanks, in part, to people like Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised over £33 million for the NHS during the first lockdown. People wanting to remember a charity that means a lot to them could be another contributing factor.

We have written previously about leaving gifts to charity in Wills, and, with many charities having to pause or stop their work due to lockdown or restrictions, they may now need donations more than ever.

There are statistics that state that, during lockdown, the amount of money left in Wills as legacy donations surged to £35 million. This is compared to around £4 million previously. This is a positive step, as charities rely heavily on legacy donations to continue the work that they do.

How We Can Help

Ultimately, people want to make sure that they care for their loved ones after they die. This is the main reason that many people choose to make a Will. Here at The Inheritance Experts, we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with all manner of enquiries. This includes enquiries about Wills. Contact us today by filling in our contact form, or by calling us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly, knowledgeable advisors.

A Brief Guide to Trust Wills

A Trust Will is one of the three main types of Will that you can make. They provide an extra level of protection of your assets for the people you want to leave something to.

When is a Trust Will Used?

A Trust is a legal structure that you can include as part of your Will. They are most seen in circumstances such as:

  • Where you wish to protect your estate against possible future care fees
  • When you have a spouse or partner, but have children from a previous relationship
  • When you wish to leave some of your estate to a vulnerable or disabled person

Types of Trust Wills

There are three types of trust Will. These are property Wills, life interest Wills, and discretionary Wills.

Property

A property trust Will can help you if you have a property which you wish to protect for future generations. It can guarantee who benefits from your property if your surviving partner remarries after you die, or if they write a new Will after your death. It can also help reduce the potential impact of future residential care fees on a home.

Anyone who owns property with someone else can have a property trust Will. This is true whether they are married, unmarried or in a civil partnership.

Life Interest

A life interest trust Will can help if you have significant investments or assets as well as property which you wish to protect for future generations. It can guarantee who benefits from cash assets and investments if your partner remarries after your death, or writes a new Will after your death. It also allows you to pick a nominated person to benefit from the income generated from your investments if you die, whilst also protecting the capital value.

Anyone who holds cash assets and investments who wishes to take care of a nominated person, but also help protect the value of investments for a specific person can have a life interest trust Will.

Discretionary

A discretionary trust Will can help if you wish to appoint trustees to manage the inheritance of vulnerable people in your Will. It can guarantee that there is someone to help any vulnerable people manage their inheritance. It also reduces the potential risk of their inheritance compromising their state benefits.

Anyone who wishes to leave inheritance to loved ones who lack the mental or physical capacity to look after their own affairs, loved ones who have a disability and run the risk of their benefit entitlement being compromised, or loved ones who are in a vulnerable position can have a discretionary trust Will.

Trust Will Disputes

Unfortunately, there are situations where a trust Will may be disputed. This can happen when one of the trustees misinterprets the intentions of the trust, for example. If you want to challenge a Trust, then talk to The Inheritance Experts, as we may be able to help.

Here at The Inheritance Experts, we know how important it is for people to get their Will in correct order. If you are looking for advice on Wills, contact us today by filling in our contact form, or by calling us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

Leaving A Charity Gift in Your Will

Many people choose to leave a gift to a charity in their Will. They choose to leave money to charities that have affected themselves or a loved one for the most part, or local causes that they feel passionate about.

Gifts to a charity in a Will (also known as charitable legacies) are usually exempt from Inheritance Tax. To qualify for this tax exemption, a charity must have a Charity Reference Number from HM Revenue & Customs. Furthermore, if you leave more that 10% of your total estate to charity, then your overall Inheritance Tax amount will reduce from 40% to 36%.

Gifts in Wills

There are three types of gifts that can be left to charity in your Will. These are:

  • Residuary gifts- a share or percentage of an estate after all other payments have been made.
  • Pecuniary gifts- a specific sum of money.
  • Specific gifts- a particular item or items.

Furthermore, you can leave anything you own to charity, including property, land, shares, money, or a specific possession. There is also no limit to the amount you can leave to charity or the number of charities you can leave a gift to. It is important to think carefully about what gifts you would like to leave to charity, as you may have specific requests that you may need to discuss with the charity.

The Impact of Charity Gifts in Wills

According to Co-Op, around 13% of all charity income in the UK comes from legacies. Further to this, they have also stated that they have seen a rise in charitable donations in Wills made during lockdown.

Cancer charities are amongst the most donated to charities in Wills, followed by local charities. Cancer Research UK state that without legacy gifts, they would not have made progress in their research. They also state that a third of their donations come from legacy donations.

The organisation Remember A Charity state that currently, 6% of people leave a gift to charity in their Will. They aim to help people realise the potential that leaving gifts to charity in their Wills has and ensure the essential work of charities lives on for future generations. They estimate that if 10% of people left gifts to charity in their Wills, then it could generate another £1 billion each year.

How to Leave A Gift to Charity

It is easy to leave a gift to charity in your Will. Firstly, you need to choose a charity. You must then make a note of the charity name, address, and registered charity number. There is a website called the Charity Commission that you can use to find the details of the charity.

After you have chosen your charity and made a note of all their details, all you have to do is contact your solicitor or Will writer to provide them with the details of your chosen charity.

Here at The Inheritance Experts, we know how important it is for people to get their Will in correct order. If you are looking for advice on Wills, contact us today by filling in our contact form, or by calling us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

George Michael: Ex is Reportedly Suing His Estate

A recent report by The Mirror states that Kenny Goss, the ex of George Michael is suing his estate. He states that he did not believe George was of sound mind when he made his last will in 2013. He also states that, because he was financially dependent on George for the 13 years they were together, that provisions should have been made for him in the star’s will. If you have experienced something similar, then you may be able to make a claim.

George Michael Case: Mental capacity

Goss states that he believes George Michael lacked mental capacity when writing his last will. Sadly, this case is all too common nowadays, with the rise in diseases such as Dementia. Due to this, there are often cases where the person may not have had the mental capacity to write a will. If you have experienced something similar, then you may be able to make a claim.

We have written before about legitimate will disputes. Contesting a will based on lack of mental capacity is one of the cases you can make. This is important if there is strong evidence that the person was not mentally well enough when the last will was made. In this case, the previous will would be the valid one. In the example of George Michael, as with others, the will may be invalid.

However, you must provide proof that the person was not of sound mind, or lacked the mental capacity. So we recommend that you contact us to see if you are able to make a claim.

George Michael Case: Financial dependence

There are also provisions that can be made in a will to those who are financially dependent on the deceased. In the George Michael example, Goss is claiming that he was financially dependent on the star during their time together. Because of this, he believes provisions should have been made in the will for him.

Under The Provision for Family and Dependants Act, people who are financially dependent on the deceased may be able to make a claim if they were left out of the will. Certain factors will be taken into consideration, these are:

  • The age of the dependents
  • The nature and duration of the relationship with the deceased
  • Their expected quality of life if the person were still alive

In the case of George Michael’s ex, he can argue that, because George provided for him financially when they were together, that this provision should continue. He also states that and that he gave up his career to look after George during their relationship. If you were financially dependent on someone, and they passed away not leaving adequate funds for you, which you need, then you may also be able to make a claim.

How We Can Help

Here at The Inheritance Experts, we work with solicitors who have years of experience in dealing with Inheritance claims. This includes claims where the person did not have the mental capacity to make a will. It also includes claims for dependents. Therefore, this means that they are extremely well placed to help you claim the compensation you may be entitled to. Contact us today by filling in our contact form, or by calling us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

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