As a nation we are reluctant to talk about inheritance. Only 38% of people in the UK have discussed their will with their family or friends, according to a survey commissioned by Brewin Dolphin. 
It doesn’t have to be this way: good financial advice can take away the awkwardness, and make you aware of opportunities for your family you may not be aware of.
Have you spoken with your family?
The first step is to begin a discussion with your family. That isn’t necessarily easy, as inheritance and estate planning can be a highly emotional subject.
But if you leave it too long, it may be too late to make a difference.
Once you have broached the subject, estate planning does not need to be complicated. A financial planner can walk you through all the options, helping you create a plan that is best suited to your family’s circumstances.
Do you have a will?
Almost half (44%) of over 55s have not made a will  and, as such, they will not have any say in what happens to their assets when they die.
Their estate will instead fall under the laws of intestacy, which divides your estate up to predetermined relatives in predetermined amounts – regardless of what the deceased’s wishes may have been.
If you are not married, but in a relationship, your partner has no legal claim on your assets and may not get anything, with your estate divided among other members of your blood family.
Making a will should therefore be a priority for most people.
Writing a will also involves choosing executors to carry out your wishes – it’s their job to deal with your assets, debts, and sell property on your death.
Executors may be family, friends, and/or a solicitor. But bear in mind that being an executor can involve plenty of work and responsibility, so choosing them requires careful consideration.
Do you understand the basic allowances?
Many people wait until death before passing on their wealth through their wills. But, transferring wealth while you are alive can have a transformative effect on your family’s life – and you get to watch your loved ones benefit.
Inheritance tax (IHT) can be complicated, but one number to remember is that every UK citizen can pass on £325,000 tax-free.
A financial adviser will be able to help you understand how IHT works and what opportunities for efficiency there are; gifting money, for example, can help reduce a liability.
Do you know how much you will need to keep for yourself?
You don’t want to give away money that you might need in the future, for example, to cover care needs in later life. But our planners can work with you to clarify how much of your wealth is available to pass on to future generations.
Once you have an estate plan in place, you will have the peace of mind of knowing that you have laid the firmest foundations for your family’s future.
 Brewin Dolphin research: Opinium surveyed 5000 UK adults online between 30th August and 5th September 2018.
Please note that this document was prepared as a general guide only and does not constitute tax or legal advice. While we believe it to be correct at the time of writing, Brewin Dolphin is not a tax adviser and tax law is subject to frequent change. Tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances; therefore you should not rely on this information without seeking professional advice from a qualified tax adviser.
The information contained in this document is believed to be reliable and accurate, but without further investigation cannot be warranted as to accuracy or completeness.
The opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily the views held throughout Brewin Dolphin Ltd