The number of blended families, where a couple may have children from previous relationships, is on the rise. While we are in the midst of a global pandemic, many couples are starting to think about the future should one of them pass away and how they can best provide for their surviving partner and children.
Create a will
This ensures that your assets pass to the individuals that you have chosen, rather than the intestacy rules applying. Wills can be updated or created remotely during the lockdown.
Joint tenants or tenants in common
If you and your partner are ‘Joint Tenants’ of your property, upon your death, your partner will automatically assume your share. However, if you have children from a previous relationship, you may not wish for this to happen. Another option is to become ‘Tenants in Common’ and to have a Declaration of Trust setting out the proportion of the property that you each own, which can be ringfenced for children. The share of the property could reflect how much money each of you has contributed to the purchase of the house. Despite the lockdown, property ownership
s can be changed electronically through the Land Registry.
Life interest trust
You can specify that after you pass away, your partner can remain in the property for the rest of their lives or to a time of your choosing and once they pass away, the trust would end and your share of the property would be left to the beneficiaries named in your will.
The same principle applies if you have a rental property and you wish for the income to pass to your surviving spouse or civil partner for a fixed period of time after death. This could be vital during this time when the coronavirus’s impact on the economy is affecting people’s ability to generate income. This will give the surviving partner time to find their feet and after that period, the ringfenced share of property could pass to your children.
Inheritance tax implications
It is important to remember that there are inheritance tax implications for setting up these types of trusts, which specialists can advise on.
But, generally speaking, if one person leaves their interest in the property (which has a value of over £325,000) entirely to a partner (if you are not married), there would be inheritance tax implications. If, however, the decision is made to leave the share of the property to direct descendants, the residence nil-rate band (RNRB) applies which will result in an additional £175,000 of tax-free allowance, depending on the size of your estate.
Lasting powers of attorney
During this crisis, many people are thinking more than ever before about choosing an attorney who they trust, should they lose capacity. A Lasting Power of Attorney can make financial and/or welfare decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to do so. It’s important that your partner and children know the details.