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Legal practicalities of raising a family *


Leaving a Legacy 

No-one likes to think about dying, but one of the worst mistakes we can make is to put off thinking about it to the extent that we fail to make a will. When loved ones are suffering shock and grief, it is going to add to their distress enormously if they find that you haven't left a will and the law will decide who gets what. This can be a terrible trauma and it will almost certainly cause friction, family fall-outs and unforeseen consequences. It is a final act of kindness to those you love to provide clear instructions on what should happen to your money and possessions and to have your wishes legally validated.

Unnecessary Taxes 

Just as we all want to avoid paying as little tax as possible when we are alive, the same rule applies after death. You want to see your savings and your precious things go to the people and the causes you care about and not to the government in inheritance and other taxes. 

The importance of Review 

Once a will is written, witnessed and tucked away in a safe place, it is all too easy to forget about it. Many of us make this mistake. If five or ten years pass by, many changes can have occurred. You may have mentioned a property in your will that you no longer own. You may have several new grandchildren. You may have been widowed or re-married. There are numerous life-changes to take into account and if these are overlooked, it may lead to upsets and complications. 

Legal Advice 

Although it is possible to prepare a will by yourself and have it duly witnessed, it may be invalid. In this case, the courts would still appoint someone to administer the estate, even if you thought you had appointed an executor to do this on your behalf. For real peace of mind, it is worth having this all-important paperwork checked by a trained eye - and then you will know for sure that your wishes will be met. A company with a long history in the funeral services industry is a good place to look for assistance. Making a will with the Co-Operative could be a sensible choice and the Co-Operative also offers funeral plans. 

Charitable donations 

Many charities are looking to legacies as a source of long term funding and it is a wonderful way to continue to support your cherished causes after you have gone. It is worth noting that if you do specify a gift to a charity in your will, it is treated as a deduction before tax. This is one way to legitimately reduce Inheritance Tax. The two ways of doing this are as a fixed sum (known as a Pecuniary Legacy) or as a part or whole of the estate once all other gifts have been distributed (a Residuary Legacy). Again, it is advisable to seek qualified advice on these legal aspects. The Citizens Advice Bureau or Age UK can offer free advice.

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