Estate Planning

Estate planning is all about making sure your wishes are followed, and minimising the amount of taxes due on your estate after you die. Putting your savings, investments, life policies or assets into a trust can play an important part in estate planning. 

A trust is a legal entity that has control over assets for the benefit of one or more people and there are different types of trust which can be set up according to what you intend to achieve.  When you set up a trust you will choose one or more trustee to be responsible for the assets.  You will also choose one or more beneficiary who will receive the assets at a time specified by you.  Setting up a trust can ensure that, for example, your estate is passed to the right people at the right time, and may be able to reduce inheritance tax liability..

Roger Lloyd Pack, better known as Trigger from Only Fools and Horses, died in 2014 at the age of 69 leaving more than £1.4 million.


His estate was shared between his widow and four children, but because he hadn't made a will, intestacy rules applied and consequently it is likely they had to pay significantly more Inheritance Tax than if he had left a valid will.

Estate Planning is a complex affair and it should ALWAYS consist of making a WILL.

Making a will is a fundamental requirement of good Estate Planning

Your "Estate" is broadly speaking is everything you own at the time of your death


Your Estate comprises of your ASSETS less any LIABILITIES.

LIFETIME gifts are those gifted during your liftime not after death. These might be to family, friends or perhaps a charity or political party.

If you have ASSETS under TRUST these may be exempt from Inheritance tax, but must be taken into account

Your WILL will specify how you wanted your ESTATE to be distributed.


If you die without making a valid will, you are said to have died Intestate and Intestacy rules apply. 

Under intestacy, you need to be married (or in a civil partnership) at the time of death in order for your partner to benefit from your estate.

Jill Dando, who was murdered in 1999, left an estate worth more than £850,000.


She was due to marry gynaecologist Alan Farthing that year, but because she died intestate her father became the sole beneficiary of her estate

Swedish writer Stieg Larsson had been with his partner Eva Gabrielsson for 32 years when he died in 2004 aged 50.


The couple never married so his estate, including all rights to his novels, passed to his father and brother, who Eva claims were not close to him.


They allowed her to keep the apartment she had shared with Stieg even though legally she was only entitled to half, otherwise she received no other significant inheritance.

If you have no children, your spouse will inherit the entire estate. However, if you have children your spouse will only inherit the first £250,000 (plus all personal belongings). The rest will be split 50/50 between your spouse and any children – or their direct descendants if any of them have predeceased you.


If you have a partner but are unmarried, he/she will receive nothing under intestacy (although if you co-own a property as ‘beneficial joint tenants’, they will automatically inherit your share of it regardless of intestacy rules).


Your assets will instead pass to your children or grandchildren. If there are no direct descendants, the next in line are your parents, then brothers and sisters, then other relatives.

If you have no surviving relatives and you haven’t made a will your entire estate will pass to the Crown.

Any previous will is automatically revoked upon marriage (unless it specifically states that it is made in contemplation of that marriage), so if you don’t make a new will the rules of intestacy will apply.

For your will to be valid, you must be over 18 and of sound mind. It must be made voluntarily in writing, signed and properly witnessed.

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If you have been appointed as someone’s personal representative you will have to value all of the assets that the deceased person owned. This valuation must accurately reflect what the assets would reasonably fetch in the open market at the date of death.

Application for probate is normally made to the appropriate probate registry (England and Wales), the local Sheriffs Court (Scotland) or the Probate and Matrimonial Office (Northern Ireland). You need to carry out the valuation before applying to take over management of the deceased person’s estate (called "applying for probate" or sometimes called "applying for a grant of representation").


If Inheritance Tax (IHT) is due on the estate, the probate or grant won’t normally be issued until at least some of the tax has been paid.

Stubbington IFA Probate Solutions Service

Stubbington IFA offer a reassuring solution to some of problems encountered by the surviving spouse, partner, or family on someones death. This service is part of our client care program.