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How to Protect your Assets

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Acquiring the keys to your new home can be an exciting time and calls for celebration. You’ve worked long and hard to get to this place; years of saving, months of careful planning and weeks of anticipation in the run up to exchange and completion of your purchase.

However, for such a significant financial commitment, there are some things you need to consider in terms of the future. If you’ve just purchased your first property, or even if you’ve been on the ladder for some time, you might not have thought about how best to protect your hard-earned assets, should things change.

None of us can predict the future, but we can be prepared for it – and in order to solidify your family’s financial security in the future, you need to ensure you make provision for all eventualities. Perhaps it is now time to consider building a wall around your fortunes, and you certainly don’t have to be of a certain age to get started.

Having a Will

Talking about death seems quite a taboo in our society, and the proof is in the study: Law Society research suggests that millions of Britons do not have a will and have no plan for when they pass away.

Here’s an alarming truth:

Approximately £8 million went to the government in 2014 from the estates of those who had not written a will.

From this study, it was found that almost a quarter of all respondents were under the assumption that their possessions would automatically be inherited by their family, even if they did not have a will.

If you pass away without having made your wishes clear and legally binding by writing a will, this is referred to as being ‘intestate’. This will mean the division of your assets is down to a strict set of rules stating who inherits what and how much – and these rules don’t take into account anyone who you are not related to, such as cohabiting partners. Most people would certainly not be happy to become part of the £8 million demographic, so it’s best to have peace of mind and ensure your property is protected with a will.

Here are some important facts:

  • Regardless of whether you’re separated or not, if you’re married your spouse may inherit most (or all) of your estate and there is no guarantee of your children acquiring anything, depending on the size of your estate.

  • If you’re unmarried or not in a civil partnership, your partner has no legal entitlement over your estate
  • Relations by marriage, close friends and carers cannot automatically inherit if you do not have a will.
  • If you have no surviving relatives and you have not made a will, your estate will potentially go to the Crown.

How to write a Will

There are several ways to make a will so be sure to choose carefully. We believe it is essential to instruct a fully qualified and warranted solicitor to tailor your will as they are likely to identify elements that could lead to conflict if they aren’t addressed properly.

The process of writing a Will may seem daunting at first, as it involves making important decisions regarding your most significant financial assets. At Bird & Co, we like to keep it straightforward while ensuring no stone is left unturned.

The first step is to make an appointment with one of our specialist Wills experts. After gaining an in-depth understanding of your current situation, your requirements and your objectives, they will advise you as to how to best protect your interests through your Will. This is known as estate planning; part of which involves considering aspects such as inheritance tax and how it may affect your beneficiaries. It’s also essential that you underline who exactly will be responsible for the administration of your estate. They will be known as the ‘executor’, so choose wisely who you would like that person to be: after all, it will be the executor who will carry out your wishes after your death. After you have reached a decision regarding how you would like your estate to be divided and who should inherit, you will need to have the Will signed.

In order for the Will to be valid, it’s essential that you:

  • Are 18 or over
  • Have the relevant mental capacity
  • Sign the Will in the presence of two witnesses, both over the age of 18.  

Once the Will has been signed and witnessed, our solicitors will store it securely free of charge and provide you with a copy. If you need to update your Will due to a change in circumstances, you must follow this same process again.

Click here for more information on how Bird & Co can help you with Wills, Trust & Probate.

Lasting Power of Attorney

It’s an unpleasant thought to face, but some of us eventually become unable to make decisions for ourselves. There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney, one for Property and Financial Affairs and another for Health and Welfare.

Setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs means that someone you nominate will have the authority to control your assets and make sure your wishes are carried out, if you are unable to do so yourself.  It’s never a bad idea to have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place – it can save your loved ones from extra distress if things take a turn for the worse.

Another benefit of a Lasting Power of Attorney is that it can be used at any time, so if you decide to go and live abroad for a year, you can trust that your Estate is being well looked after.

For more information on Lasting Power of Attorney, click here.

How we can help

At Bird & Co, we are not only experts in buying and selling property, but are fully qualified to assist you with the tools you need to protect your assets. Whether you need to set up a Will, Lasting Power of Attorney, or just have questions about your property and what you can do to protect it, we can help make sure you are prepared for the future. Give our friendly experts a call on 01476 591711.