Planning for the future – wills and trusts

As we get older many people think about planning for what happens to their estate (their assets and property).

You do not need to be a certain age to start planning for the future, and it is a good idea to start thinking about this earlier rather than later in life. This will help ensure your family or dependents are provided for properly.

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Wills and trusts – the basics

A will is a document that sets out instructions for who will inherit your estate and what should happen to your possessions after you die. A will can also include other information, such as who you wish to care for your children, and the funeral arrangements you would like. A will is only a legally-binding document if it is prepared properly.

A trust is a legal arrangement where one or more people (or a company) controls money or assets which must be used for the benefit of one or more people (the beneficiaries). For example, you may want your family to use some of your money to pay for your care if you became ill. Rather than just giving the money to them, putting it into a trust ensures it can only be used for the specific intended purpose.

Making a will and planning what to leave

If you die without preparing a will, your estate will be divided up in line with the strict rules of intestacy. Writing a will can be all too easy to put off doing, but the process can be quite simple. When making your will, you need to think about how much you have to leave and who gets what.

The Money Advice Service have an online guide to help you work out the basics of preparing a will.

Age UK have information about making a will on their website, including how to update one.

Consumer website Which? have  advice and guidance on making a will, including what to include in one and how much it will cost.

Setting up a trust

Putting money into a trust is one way to have someone manage it for you. You can put money, investments or other assets into the trust. Depending on the type of trust you choose, it may have to pay tax and the trustees may need to complete tax returns.

The Money Advice Service has advice on setting up a trust including getting the proper legal advice beforehand.

Gov.uk has information on trusts including taxation, the different types of trusts available, and those suitable for vulnerable people.

Further information

When thinking about planning for wills and trusts, it can be reassuring to have access to independent financial advice. The Society of Later Life Advisors (SOLLA) website provides information about choosing an accredited member of the Society who has with the expertise to best understand your needs and provide advice that is right for you and your family.

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