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Friday, 4 September 2015

Single people

Being single is a favourite topic of mine as I am single and have no children.   What do you do then in the case of making a Will. 

You should consider the following when thinking about a Will if you are single:

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) latest data showed that 51% of people in England and Wales are single – half the population.*
In reality, as we know in will writing circles, the definition of “single” is people who are not married.
Therefore this demographic will include cohabiting couples, single parents, those divorced or widowed – which means there are significant groups of society that may not be aware of the consequences of not having a will in place. More thought needs to be dedicated into life planning when there is no spouse to bequeath their estate, or even no next of kin at all.
This is the first time that figures have shown that there are more “single” people than not, indicating a trend. It is consequently more important than ever for will writers to be handling such cases with great care, as with any client, to ensure their wishes are carried out after death. Even though their partners or loved ones may be a significant part of the person’s life, and as though married or a member of the family, this doesn’t always mean they have the right to inherit.
As a result, will writing professionals will need to put specialised consideration into how a single person's estate will be distributed. This will include the following considerations:
  1. Professional executors: unless your client has friends they trust, or believe are qualified to carry out your clients wishes then the professional executor route may be an attractive option.
  2. Pre-paid funeral plans: these ensure that your clients’ funeral expenses will be paid should something happen to them.
  3. Certainty: the national will writing register will allow friends or family to determine whether a person has made a will.
  4. Intestacy: the rules of intestacy need to be made clear to the customer. Your client may not want their family to inherit, which they would do under the laws of intestacy.
  5. Charity: your client may wish to leave their estate to a charity.
  6. Pets: if your client has pets they may wish to make allowance for them in their will.
Are there any standard or even additional considerations or processes you conduct for single clients? Are these cases particularly challenging, more so than with married clients?

There is also the question of IHT.   The allowances recently announced in the Budget in July 2015 will only take effect if you have direct descendants.   The following is a question which I have taken from a reader sending in a question about the IHT rules for single people:

I have assets worth £600,000 which include my home. I am single, never married and have no children. I intend to leave my assets to my brothers and sisters. Do they qualify as direct descendants and, in turn, will I qualify for the extra £175,000 family home allowance?
AH, via email
The draft legislation states that the relief will only be available where the family home is passed to children. This includes stepchildren, adopted and foster children, plus grandchildren. Therefore the family home allowance will not be available to you. Other readers have asked if they qualify for the additional relief if they leave their house to nieces and nephews. Again, they would not qualify.

So if you are single and have no children you will not get any extra tax relief in order to leave your home to relatives.   Is this discrimination?   I think it is. 

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