Murray Beith Murray’s New Year’s Resolutions - Part One by Andrew Paterson

new year 1The start of a New Year always brings the promise of a ‘better you’. Whether you envisage increasing your fitness levels, eating healthier or learning a new skill, there are also some important and tangible goals you can set to organise your personal affairs.

Whilst you are full of good intentions, may we present to you Murray Beith Murray’s New Year’s Resolutions for inspiration (and you will be pleased to know that they are all relatively simple to put a satisfying tick next to!). 

This will take shape in a series of four blogs over the next two weeks, which will share a total of seven resolutions.

Update your Will

First on the list is a reminder to put in place a Will or ensure your existing Will is up-to-date.

Wills are imperative to guarantee your assets pass to your nearest and dearest. It is all too common a misconception that when you die, the law will automatically take care of matters for you. Many are of the view that your estate will simply pass to your spouse, civil partner, partner or children. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Alternatively, you may have a strained relationship with family members and wish to ensure that they do not inherit under the terms of your Will. By considering your Will, you can obtain appropriate advice about Legal Rights (where children and spouses have an automatic entitlement to a proportion of your net moveable estate) and any measures that can be taken.

Drafting a Will allows you to take control and ensure nothing is left to chance. Wills allow you to make provision for the following:-

  • Appointment of Executors – These are people that you can choose to execute the terms of your Will upon your death. Having a Will allows you to appoint people that you know and trust. If you did not have a Will, ultimately it would be for the court to decide who takes on this role of responsibility. 
  • Leaving specific legacies and bequests – There may be certain items that you wish to leave to special individuals, such as sentimental pieces of jewellery or even savings in a particular bank account. Your Will allows you to do so and can prevent such items ending up in the ‘wrong hands’.
  • Putting in place a Trust – If you have young children or grandchildren that you wish to inherit upon reaching a certain age, a Trust is a fantastic tool to allow this. To explain, the age of legal entitlement to inherit sums in Scotland is 16. Many feel this is too young to inherit large sums. You can therefore have a flexible trust arrangement whereby your Trustees can appoint sums to your children or grandchildren before they reach a specific age of your choice, such as 25, if the Trustees feel it is appropriate to do so. For example, your children may require sums to pay for a deposit on a property so the Trustees could advance sums to them accordingly even if they have not turned the specified age. Trust can be used for various other reasons too; the list of possibilities is vast.
  • Appointing Guardians for your children – This is optional but can offer peace of mind so you know who would look after your children should you die before they reach the age of 16. It is certainly a point worth considering and a Will is a very useful place to record such an important decision.
  • Providing your funeral instructions – Again, this is not imperative but a Will can be a useful place for you to record any funeral instructions you may have. This can serve as a useful source of guidance to your family members so they can feel reassured and know that they have done what you would have wanted.
  • Ensuring you have adequate inheritance tax planning in place – Upon speaking with your Solicitor, you can consider what options would be best for you and reflect this in the terms of your Will.

Wills are not as complicated as you may fear. If you already have a Will, it is important to keep it updated and ensure it is an accurate reflection of your wishes. My previous blog stressed the importance of updating your Will.

We recommend reviewing your Will every three to five years or after a significant life event e.g. getting married or having children.

Part two of this blog will appear on 11 January for your second resolution to consider. 

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Murray Beith Murray’s New Year’s Resolutions - Par...
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