The Taylor&Emmet Blog

Difficult discussions about death

Taking about death might not be easy, but it is hugely important. This month, Hannah Montague highlights the need to address this last taboo with friends and family…

Each year, thousands of pounds from deceased estates goes unclaimed, simply because family members never spoke about the assets they had accrued or where they were located.

Despite probate specialists, like me, continuing to bang the drum about the importance of wills, there are still around 30 million people in the UK without one and this can exacerbate the problem of unclaimed assets immensely.

Making a will simplifies matters, ensuring your family, friends and the charities closest to you can be made more financially secure upon your death. It also prevents problems arising with locating your next of kin that can complicate an intestacy situation.

How should I approach my family to ensure their affairs are in order?

It’s not an easy conversation to have, but it is important to talk about dying, to ensure you are better prepared for the future and give your family peace of mind.

Death is still such taboo subject that although many parents want to speak about how their estates will be managed, they don’t for fear of upsetting their children. Likewise, around the same proportion of adult children want to have transparent communications with their parents, but feel it may distress them if they were to raise the subject of their demise.

If you have made a will, it is vital to inform your family about where it is held, along with the title deeds to any property you own. It is also helpful to make sure you know yourself where savings and investments are lodged and keep paperwork up to date and stored in a filing system someone else can follow.

Having a special place where you keep important paperwork can be the key to unravelling your estate. If the details of your assets and liabilities, for example utility bills and insurance providers, are kept together, they are easily accessible.

How do I find out how much inheritance tax may be due on my estate?

Once you have established the extent of your savings, investments and liabilities, you are in a better position to work out the inheritance tax that would be incurred.

If you feel the burden of tax may be a problem, ask a probate solicitor to look at the different allowances and options available to you, to try and mitigate some of the liability.

Regardless of your inheritance tax situation, it is a good idea to have your will reviewed every five years – or earlier if any significant life events take place. For example, if a beneficiary dies, marries or divorces, your will may need rewriting or updating in line with their new circumstances.

Taking the time to ensure your affairs are in order and being aware of the current inheritance tax rules can be a great weight off your shoulders, allowing you to concentrate on enjoying later life.

To find out more about making or reviewing a will, why not book a free 30-minute consultation with one of our probate specialists? Telephone (0114) 218 4000, email: or complete this form.

Hannah Montague

Hannah Montague is a solicitor in our wills and probate department. Hannah specialises in the administration of deceased estates, wills, powers of attorney, Court of Protection applications and advising the elderly. For more information on this topic email or call her on 0114 218 4342.

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