Quiz: How will you be remembered?
“Putting your affairs in order”, “Dying tidily”, call it what you will – it is important. It requires a certain amount of diligence certainly but not divine intervention. You never hear about those who do. But the importance is always illustrated by those who don’t.
Louis XV is perhaps the leading example of how not to do it. “Après moi, le déluge!” he is reported to have said. While most of us no doubt consider ourselves rather more responsible, and believe our affairs to be in order, are things as ordered and simple as we might like to think?
Test your own situation with this simple quiz. Answer ‘Yes’, ‘No’ or ‘Maybe’ for each question.
1. Have you got one?
2. Do you know where it is?
3. Do you know what it says?
4. Have you looked at it in the last 5 years?
5. Are your executors still alive and appropriate?
6. Are guardians for minor children still relevant, alive and appropriate?
7. Will your family understand why you have done what you have?
8. Does it cover foreign assets?
Give yourself a pat on the back for any of the following:
• My will is with my solicitor
• I have photographed specific items mentioned as going to particular beneficiaries
• I have taken specialist foreign advice on overseas assets and am happy that these are covered either by my UK will or my separate foreign will.
And a serious talking to for:
• Who needs a lawyer when there is WH Smith?
• My will is my own business and nobody else’s.
9. Do you have an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) or a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?
10. Do you know where it is?
11. Are your attorneys still alive, able, and appropriate?
12. Is your LPA registered?
13. Have you done what you can (and want) to avoid IHT?
14. Are you keeping records of lifetime gifts?
15. Have you considered how any IHT will be paid?
You get a bonus for:
• I am going to outlive all my gifts by 7 years.
• I have insurance to cover the tax.
And marks off for:
• We’ve given the house to the children, and we just carry on living there.
16. If you have life assurance have you within the last 5 years thought about how much you have and need?
17. Are the policies written in trust so that they won’t be taxable?
18. Do you know where the policies (and trust deeds) are?
19. Is it clear who will run the business following your death?
20. Are you sure there is no pre-emption or shareholders agreement which restricts who can own shares?
21. Will your intended beneficiaries be allowed to hold shares?
22. Do you want them to?
23. If not, can the company afford to buy your shares from the estate?
24. Do your co-directors / partners know your plans?
25. Are your executors and fellow shareholders informed?
Extra marks for:
• We keep this under review as a company.
26. Do you have good records of all that you own and all that you owe?
27. Do you know where all title deeds and certificates are?
28. Have you closed dormant bank accounts (especially those overseas)?
29. Does someone know where to find passwords for your PC, online bank accounts and trading accounts?
Extra points for:
• I keep a list of assets and liabilities with my will, and review it regularly
• All my stock exchange investments are in an investment manager’s nominee, because I know this will make it much easier to liquidate after my death, which could be particularly useful when my executors are trying to pay inheritance tax.
• I have done the necessary to close down my social media.
Points off for:
• Nobody else may understand my filing system – but I can lay my hands on whatever you ask me for.
30. Are you confident that you have made financial provision for all those whom you have been looking after financially?
A weight off your mind for:
• My solicitor knows all about my indiscretions and what to do about sorting out any problems that might arise.
Be very afraid for:
• I’m just hoping I’ll be dead by the time the Revenue wake up to what I’ve done.
• The Joker-double your score if:
We talk regularly as a family about all of this.
So how did you get on?
Mostly Yes Ok, that’s pretty tidy but do the questionnaire again in 3 years’ time.
Mostly Maybe Even if you’re being honest with yourself, there is probably more to sort out than you think. It’s definitely worth taking some advice on this and keeping on top of things.
Mostly No What?! Louis XV would have been proud of you! Come and see us immediately!
The cost of sorting out a testamentary problem is not just a financial one (probably in the order of 10 times the cost of avoiding it in the first place – and substantially more in some cases). It is often also an emotional one. It does pay to sort things out. After all no one wants to be remembered for the quality of their admin.