Where there’s no will there’s a way

JEFF SMITH, COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR, THE ASSET PROTECTION STRATEGY

Unbelievably, around 75% of individuals don’t have a will, and a significant percentage of those who do have an out-of-date or incorrectly drafted one.

The consequences of this can be catastrophic, both personally and financially.

For example, if both parents die without a valid will that indicates their childcare wishes, under UK law the courts will decide on the destiny of their children regardless of what they might have wanted.

In some cases this has resulted in children being taken into the social care system because relatives have not been considered suitable to do the job. If you didn’t know this, the chances are your clients don’t either.

Also, it is likely that most of the life insurance policies held by your customers are not written in trust. This can not only result in assets falling into the wrong hands but might also mean unnecessarily punitive Inheritance Tax payments.

Meanwhile, a high proportion of your customers are likely to have no life insurance in place, thus exposing their family to potential financial stress in the event of their death.

And your clients may not be aware that if they have more than£23,000 in assets in the tax year in 2009/10 their home might have to be sold to pay for their long-term care. This could be avoided by the use of trusts and other legitimate measures.

There is a huge potential market for mortgage advisers to move into and it is still largely untapped.