How can I ensure my children are looked after by the right people when I die?
Samantha: It is important that you have a Will in place that appoints guardians of your minor children in the event of your death. if your children’s other parent is still alive and has parental responsibility you cannot bypass this, but you can appoint another guardian/s to act with their other parent. They would not have the same rights as a parent, but the family courts would take their view into account. If your children’s other parent has died and appointed their own guardians, your guardians would act jointly with them or if they do not have parental responsibility then your guardians will have full responsibility on your death.
This can be very important to women who have strong views about the upbringing of their children and who want to ensure their own family or loved ones are involved in their children’s lives.
How do I ensure my estate goes where I want it to if I die?
Samantha: The best way to ensure your estate passes to who you want it to on your death, is to have a Will prepared by a solicitor who can tailor the advice to you and your circumstances. If you die without a Will, the laws of intestacy will come into play and often these are not what people would have wanted. For example, if you are unmarried and do not have children, your estate will pass to your closest blood relatives even if these are people you had little or no contact with. This means that if you are cohabiting with a partner, they will not receive anything from your estate and nor would any friends or charities you may wish to benefit.
How do I make the most of my money and maximise the amount I can pass on in my Will?
Samantha: There are many ways you can take advantage of the laws surrounding Inheritance Tax in the U.K. Our solicitors can review your circumstances and provide you with advice in relation to reducing the amount of Inheritance Tax your estate will pay upon your death.
Consulting a financial advisor to help you plan for your future and any unforeseen circumstances such as care fees or ensuring you have a life insurance policy in place to assist your loved ones. In many areas, women are still paid less than their male counterparts, so it is important that we take the necessary steps maximise our assets and protect our financial independence.
Dasha: One of the key steps to gain and protect financial independence is to take responsibility for your own finances.
However, with many competing demands on our time, understanding what you have financially and what you are looking to achieve with it undoubtedly requires quite a bit of effort. That said, once you get started you will find that it can help minimise worries and financial difficulties in the future.
Young people often say that they do not have any money to invest. What they might be forgetting is that their pension is invested – and most probably in default funds chosen by their employer which may not be suitable for their needs.
One of the most common behaviours that I have observed is that people tend to increase their spending with pay rises at work. For example, a 20% pay rise is often followed by a 20% increase in expenditure: buying more expensive groceries, spending more on clothes, buying breakfast and lunch out on work days. The lifestyle ends up costing more. Savings stay static.
Of course, it is nice to treat yourself sometimes. My tip would be to agree with yourself in advance a fixed sum (or portion of the pay rise) that you would use on a one-off treat. The rest would be channelled into savings. That way you can start to build on your savings. Once you have a reasonable cash buffer, you can start considering investment.
I think it’s also important that you consider not only what you can pass on in your Will, but also life time gifting and other Inheritance Tax planning when you are alive. There is a process called Cash Flow Planning that can help ascertain whether or not you can afford to make a gift, or whether that money will be required by you in later life.
What happens if I get ill or have an accident and I can no longer manage my own financial affairs?
Samantha: Lasting Powers of Attorney allow you to appoint individuals you trust to manage your affairs if you can no longer do so yourself. You have the security of choosing people who will act in your best interest and who you trust. Without Lasting Powers of Attorney in place you have no way of knowing who will be in charge of your finances or care and if your loved one’s views will be taken into account.
If you think you might want to speak to a solicitor in relation to these or any other questions you may our experienced solicitors are always here to guide you though these complex and stressful questions.