Where there is a will, there could still be trouble!

Advice from Tom Lowenstein

Over the past few years, I have been confronted with numerous problems in my capacity as Executor, mediator or advisor to Deceased Estates. Many of the problems that occurred arose from homemadeWills, and sometimes fromWills prepared by lawyers. In some instances, although the intention of the Deceased was spelt out, it was not possible to carry out his or her wishes due to technical/legal reasons or as a result of lawyers who had not been properly briefed by the accountants as to the financial situation of the client. In other instances, problems arose where properties left to beneficiaries were not actually owned by the deceased but instead belonged to a company or Trust. There were also some situations where the assets left in theWill no longer existed or had already been gifted during the Deceased's lifetime.

When preparing a will the most important aspect is that both your Accountant and your Solicitor are consulted and are fully aware of your assets and their location. In the first instance you should consult your Accountant and obtain a comprehensive list of your assets and liabilities, including the date that the assets were acquired, as there could be possible Capital Gains Tax implications. You should also ask your Accountant to prepare a chart of your business structure and to provide your Solicitor with copies of Trust Deeds and company documentation, to establish in what way control of these entities is exercised.

It is also necessary for you to prepare a comprehensive list of your beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries, including children by previous marriages or others who could claim to be your dependents. Ideally, you should meet with your Accountant and Solicitor as part of preliminary discussions to ensure that they communicate with each other and are fully informed of your circumstances.

In case of artists where a large part of their estate is in the form of artworks, special considerations are needed.

If you would like to find out more regarding the financial implications of making a Will and Estate Planning, contact us for further information.

© Tom Lowenstein, 2009

Last update: June, 2009