Inheritance tax warning as your costs could spiral out of control without a will | Personal finance | Finance

Inheritance tax (IHT) is set at 40% of the value of an estate above a certain threshold, and other death-related charges are also applicable. But failing to write a last will and testament could be the last and hardest mistake a person makes. Express.co.uk spoke to Michael Culver, chairman of Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE), who discussed the implications.

He said: “One of the biggest problems can arise when someone doesn’t have a will in place.

“Where there is a spouse or children, usually those people will take over the administration and take care of it.

“But if there is a circumstance where there is no spouse or children, there is often quite a long delay between the death of a person and the settlement of their estate.

“It could be for a variety of reasons, but generally there can be a bit of doubt about who is going to inherit and who settles matters.

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“But again, this can often be overlooked, especially if the family is caught up in the funeral side of things and wants to worry about legal issues down the road.

“It’s delays in getting things started that can create their own problems.”

A will is therefore a key and central document that Britons must have in place before they die.

In a way, it could be the perfect gift someone can leave for their loved ones when they are gone.

Mr Culver added: “Where there is a will, it tells the bereaved where to start and what steps to take.

“It gets the ball going much faster and helps people understand what they’re dealing with from day one.

“It also helps lawyers understand the circumstances of a family in this case.”

Under the intestacy rules, applicable when a person dies without a will, the entire estate will not necessarily pass to the surviving spouse or family members.

Mr. Culver also pointed out that there could be major financial implications for those who do not have this documentation in place.

He concluded: “Those without a will will find that the cost can really skyrocket, wildly out of control in some situations.

“It’s not like you have a list of assets in the will, but there could be references to sums of money. This can really help channel money to the right place.

“If there is an intestate, you really start blind, it takes a long time, so it can cost more.

“The family plans to spend more money settling the estate than they could otherwise inherit.”

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