A will is a critical document for setting out your final wishes. Yet, almost 6.5 million adults refuse to discuss theirs with loved ones. While a deeply personal decision, communicating with beneficiaries and engaging in estate planning could have benefits.
It can be a difficult topic to discuss and it’s one of the key reasons people put it off, according to research from Royal London:
Other reasons include:
However, the emotional side of the issue is only part of the reason. Over four in ten (45%) of parents with adult children said the contents of their will is ‘no one’s business’ but their own or their partners. While it may be challenging, discussing what your will contains can make financial and practical sense.
Mona Patel, Royal London’s consumer spokesperson, said: “Talking about dying can be seen as ‘taboo’ and it is not always easy to bring it up. Discussing your will with beneficiaries means they are better prepared when the time comes. It is also hugely important for family members to be aware of vital decisions in your will, such as who will look after your children.”
Five reasons to consider talking about your will
If you’ve taken the approach of not speaking about you will, these five reasons to do so may change your mind. How you approach the topic, or if indeed you decide to at all, is a personal decision, but there are benefits to starting a discussion.
1. Financial security for loved ones
While almost half of people take the view that the contents of a will shouldn’t be shared, even with those that stand to inherit, it can improve their financial security.
It gives you an opportunity to talk to beneficiaries about their personal financial situation and how inheritance may help them. You may find they’re struggling now and gifting a portion of their inheritance rather than leaving it behind could have a far greater impact in the long term. Some beneficiaries may also have expectations about what they will inherit and be planning accordingly. If this information is wrong, it could mean they’re making inappropriate financial decisions. A frank discussion can help make sure you’re all on the same page.
2. Anticipate potential challenges
Ideally, the wishes you set out in a will are followed perfectly. But this isn’t always the case, people may choose to contest a will. In fact, research from Direct Line Life Insurance revealed a quarter of Brits would be prepared to contest a loved one’s will if they were unhappy with it. The survey follows a 6% increase year-on-year of people contesting grants of probate.
Taking the chance to speak to those that will inherit, or not as the case may be, allows you to anticipate potential challenges that could occur. Speaking about your will, particularly in front of professionals, demonstrates you understand the decision you’ve made fully, which can counteract common grounds for contesting a will, such as undue influence or lack of knowledge.
3. Let your non-legally binding wishes be known
You can use your will to set out wishes that aren’t legally binding. For instance, you may have certain funeral requests or ideas of how you’d like the money you’re leaving beneficiaries to be used. While you may state these in a will, beneficiaries don’t necessarily have to carry them out.
Speaking to a loved one doesn’t mean they’ll follow your wishes. However, it’s a chance to discuss why it’s important to you and specify details, supporting what you’ve written in your will.
4. Identify potential Inheritance Tax mitigation opportunities
If your estate may be liable for Inheritance Tax (IHT), writing a will can often be a first step in reducing the bill your loved ones will pay. However, there are typically many other steps that can be taken. Talking through your will with loved ones and professionals in the context of your wider financial plan can help ensure as much of your wealth as possible benefits those you care about.
The actions you take to minimise potential IHT liability may mean it’s necessary to review your will in light of this. This can be done either through making an official alteration, known as a codicil or by making a new will, which should explain it revokes all previous wills.
5. Don’t forget your Power of Attorney
As you think about discussing your will with loved ones and a financial planner, you should also discuss Power of Attorney. Naming a Power of Attorney gives someone the power to make either health or financial decisions on your behalf should you be unable to, for example, due to illness. Again, it’s not a conversation anyone looks forward to. However, clearly talking about what you’d want to happen in certain situations can be beneficial to all parties.
If you’d like to discuss the contents of your will in the context of financial planning, please get in touch. Whether you want to talk about potential IHT mitigation or have our perspective as you chat to loved ones about their inheritance, we’re here to provide you with guidance every step of the way.
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