Do I need a UK will?
The short the answer is YES, the long answer explained below is also YES. The making of a UK will is a simple process which can save your loved ones a lot of time, money and problems should you die holding UK assets. It will also give you peace of mind that your estate will be divided how you wish and not according to some rules laid down by the UK Government. In addition a will can be used as a useful tax planning tool.
What are the rules of intestacy which apply when you die without a valid will. These rules determine how your estate will be shared out and it is not always as you would want or even imagine. In extreme cases it is entirely possible that some of the estate may end up with the Government itself. These rules are complex but if you have a spouse or civil partner and children your estate will be divided amongst them, the size of your estate will determine how much each gets rather than your wishes.
Another important thing a will can do is look after your minor children by appointing UK based guardians, this will ensure they are looked after by someone you know, and trust and their education can continue uninterrupted, in addition and more importantly they have the comfort of being looked after by someone they know and trust at a very difficult time.
Access to your UK assets, including bank accounts, can also be delayed by not having a will. When you die all your assets are frozen and cannot be touched, until your executors obtain a grant of probate to prove the will, it can create great difficulties if all your bank accounts are frozen and your family need access to the funds. A will lets the executors apply for a grant of probate quickly so they can get access to the funds, if there is no will or maybe even if there is a Russian will, it can take months for the accounts to be unfrozen. There is some planning to consider here as you may wish to open a joint account for some funds so that at least some money will be available. Banks will offer loans against accounts handicapped in this way, but that does involve extra costs that can be avoided.
Taxation is another area where a valid will can be of great assistance and provide great savings. Even if you do not have a UK domicile you are still liable to UK Inheritance tax on your UK based assets. Thus, for example if you are in the UK on a tier one investor visa you would have at least £2,000,000 invested in the UK. As the nil rate band (for 2021/2022) only stands at £325,000 that would leave £675,000 which could end up being taxed at 40%, a bill of £270,000, which could have been avoided by a bit of planning and a valid UK will. In addition to this basic step there are lots of other tax planning options open to you if you make a will, if you do not, these opportunities will be lost.
It may be that you already have a will written in Russia or indeed any other country. If so, you should not assume that this covers your worldwide assets, some wills are only valid locally or in the country in which they are written. In addition, even if your will is a world-wide one it may still cause delays and uncertainty, as firstly it will need to be proven in the country in which it is written, which will take time and then the original needs to be produced in the UK to be proven again before probate can be applied for and your assets released.
The making of a will is in fact a simple process, provided you have the necessary professional help, it will probably involve just two meetings one to give the instructions and one a simple signing exercise.
Services we offer
We are pleased to be able to offer the following taxation based services:
A General tax consultation and/or specific tax advice;
Tax planning for your general situation or for a specific transaction;
Registration for National Insurance and Unique Tax Reference numbers;
Preparation and submission of annual self-assessment returns;
Preparation and submission of return for overseas landlords;
Formation of UK and offshore companies in respect to an acquisition of the commercial property and administrative and accounting services for corporate entities.
All taxation services are arranged on a fixed fee basis with the fee to be charged agreed in advance of any work being undertaken.
For all questions regarding your business in the UK and tax planning, please contact our Business Consultancy team at Law Firm Limited on +44 (0)20 7907 1460 or via emailback to top