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Matthew Yates comments on video wills in the Financial Times

  • September 04, 2020
  • By Matthew Yates, Partner

The Ministry of Justice has granted a concession allowing video technology to be used to witness wills being signed. The measure is backdated to 31 January 2020, covering wills that were witnessed by video under lockdown, and will remain in force until January 2022. However, the MoJ says it should be used only as a last resort when the person making the will — the testator — cannot meet people outside their household.

Plenty of readers say they will remember charities in their wills as the inheritance tax rate on an estate can be reduced to 36 per cent from 40 per cent if at least 10 per cent of a person’s taxable estate goes to charity.

This can result in some complicated calculations but overall, “the costs of carrying out the calculations should not be too steep, especially as the software provided to prepare and file the IHT accounts can carry out these calculations,” said Matthew Yates, partner at Hunters Law.

There have been a number of cases in the courts in recent years where children have challenged major legacies to charities. Mr Yates said that contemporaneous notes of meetings need to be part of the records kept with the will to give the reasoning behind the bequest. It may also be necessary to get a medical opinion on the capacity of the will-maker in the form of a letter to be kept with the will.

A final measure for those determined to leave a charity legacy might be to include a “forfeiture clause”, so that if a beneficiary challenges a legacy to an organisation or other individual they lose their own inheritance, said Mr Yates.

Read the full article in the Financial Times here

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