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Why it’s important to have a well-written will

Relying on a homemade will comes with the risk of it being found invalid, as highlighted by the recent legal case of Ingram and Whitfield v Abraham 2023.

In this case, Joanne Abraham’s children were the original beneficiaries of her estate, but a homemade will drafted by her brother claimed that he should be the inheritor. However, the court found this will to be invalid, so Joanne’s estate went to her children after all.

Here’s what you should be aware of regarding invalid wills and the importance of keeping a well-written will up to date with Inheritance Tax (IHT) changes.

What makes a will invalid?

While it would usually be presumed that the testator (person who wrote the will) would have known about and approved the will, it may be considered suspicious if it:

  • Is a homemade will
  • Was created by a beneficiary
  • Contains spelling errors
  • Represents a drastic change from a previous will
  • Names a beneficiary who did not have a close relationship with the testator

In Ingram and Whitfield v Abraham 2023, the court found the will drafted by Joanne’s brother invalid because it was homemade and spelled Joanne’s name incorrectly.

Keep your will up to date

Though Inheritance Tax (IHT) reliefs have largely remained the same since the residence nil rate band (RNRB) was introduced in 2017, there have been talks of IHT abolition in the last year, and future changes are possible with the upcoming general election.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) recommends the scrapping of three IHT reliefs:

  • AIM shares – as they’re exempt, people often use AIM portfolios and ISAs to avoid IHT
  • Business and agricultural property relief
    – could be capped rather than abolished
  • Pension pots – money purchase pension scheme funds can be passed on IHT-free

If the next government follows these recommendations, this would have a significant impact on wills relating to these assets – and in any case, it’s essential to plan your will carefully if you want to reduce the IHT bill for your beneficiaries.

Estate administration services

Do you have a will that’s not only fit for purpose, but also future-proof? Even well-written wills must be reviewed to make sure they take the latest legal changes into account.

Not only might you experience changes in your circumstances and wealth, but changing IHT rules in particular could disrupt your estate administration plans.

Here at gbac, our qualified will writers can help you to create an organised will that sets out exactly what you want to happen with the distribution and management of your estate, in line with the most current regulations.

Our proficient probate services
can also help family members with the execution of a will after the passing of a loved one, from probate application and asset valuation to the preparation of accounts and final tax return submissions.

For more information, or to arrange a free initial consultation, contact our accountants in Barnsley by calling 01226 298 298 or emailing info@gbac.co.uk.