Young, some and stoked: the value of getting a Will sorted - Boodle Hatfield

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18 Jan 2023

Young, some and stoked: the value of getting a Will sorted

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3 min read

Given much of my time is spent working with entrepreneurs building their businesses, inevitably questions come up about estate planning and so this piece seeks to highlight the value of getting a Will sorted, even if it may not, on the surface, seem like a priority.

When you start your career you may not have any discernible assets so may not be able to see the point in thinking about a Will. However, as time goes on, it may be helpful to think about it, certainly if you have purchased a property or have investments in your name or if you have a partner.

The reason it is important to do so is that, without a Will in place, your estate falls under the intestacy rules. These can have unsatisfactory or impractical consequences – for example, if you are unmarried but with a long term partner and no children, it will go to your parents. If you had a sibling, they would get nothing.

If you have a view as to where your estate should go, you should have a Will to deal with it.

My assets keep changing

At the early stages of your life, your assets and relationships may ebb and flow somewhat so it may not make sense to have a Will that tries to leave every single asset you own to particular individuals.

The practical solution may well be to have a basic Will which leaves everything to a discretionary trust. Alongside the Will, you would keep a "Letter of Wishes" which provides guidance regarding your wishes regarding specific gifts.

In that case, you would need to have a couple of trustees for the discretionary trust who must be people you trust to deal with your estate in accordance with your wishes.

An example

If you prepare a Will today which leaves everything into a discretionary trust and this time next year you purchase a car and want to ensure that that goes to your sibling, you simply update your Letter of Wishes.

Alternatively, in 18 months' time you might receive a bonus and set up a new investment account for it, purchase an NFT or other crypto asset or simply pop it in a savings account. You can update your Letter of Wishes to record both your intentions regarding the investments and where your log-in details are. (For those interested in digital assets, my colleague Hayden wrote an interesting article about digital legacies here.)

This is much simpler than updating the Will again, which would be the alternative if you have particular wishes for how new assets pass.

Looking ahead

As you get older your Will may in fact become simpler if you have carried out lifetime succession planning, such that your affairs become more simple by the time of death, and your heirs (perhaps children) are mature themselves. In that situation you may no longer require a trust within your Will in later life. However trusts can be helpful to protect assets for the longer term and ensure a lasting legacy.

Other considerations

If you run a company, you should also ensure that your articles or shareholders' agreement are appropriately drafted to ensure that your business can carry on operating.

Our family business team works across our private wealth and corporate departments and this piece is something of a collaboration between us. If it would be helpful to have a discussion about preparing a Will to ensure that your personal and business interests are dealt with correctly to ensure continuity, please get in touch.

Without a Will in place, your estate falls under the intestacy rules. These can have unsatisfactory or impractical consequences.

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