As many as 7 out of 10 people have not made a will. Making a will – and being sure people know where to find it – is the first step to ensuring your estate is shared out exactly as you want it to be when you die. Even more important is for landlords to think about what will happen to their assets after their death – as there is often a high value attached to their property investments.
Marc von Grundherr, Lettings Director of Benham & Reeves Residential Lettings, tells us why landlords, in particular, need a will.
“Many landlords presume their property and possessions will automatically pass to their spouse/partner when they die, but if you pass away ‘intestate’ – the legal term for dying without making a will – your estate may not be distributed according to your wishes,” Marc comments. When a landlord dies intestate, any buy to let property is divided between the spouse and surviving blood relatives. For those landlords who have not got round to writing a will there’s a chance that the spouse will not receive the total estate. And for those who are not married and are living with a partner, the partner may not receive anything, as cohabitant partners are not automatically recognised in intestacy law.
Yet it is not simply a matter of who will benefit from the will. Sorting out a landlord’s estate after death can be a lengthy and painful process for the relatives. Marc continues: “By writing a will, landlords can legally state who they want to directly receive their assets – including any buy to let property – thereby reducing any confusion, conflict and legal costs for the families following their death.”
Important also is that a landlord arranges a Lasting Power of Attorney allowing them to assign a person of their choice to make decisions on their behalf. A Lasting Power of Attorney is normally used when someone is unable to make their own decisions and the responsibility is given to a close relative or friend – as opposed to a Civil Servant working for the Office of the Public Guardian. Marc says: “We currently manage a building in Hampstead – let out as flats – which was in dire need of a total refurbishment. The owner was suffering from dementia and was unwilling to make the necessary changes to secure future lettings and achieve the market norm, in terms of rental income. But as her daughter had been given Power of Attorney she was able to overrule her mother and proceed with the refurbishment plans. As a result, the flats will now be let at an approximate price of £700 per week instead of the previous figure of £300.”
Landlords should also keep their will up to date, reviewing it every five years and making a new one if any major changes occur, for example, they separate, get married or divorce, have a child or move house. Marc concludes: “And it is vital that landlords remember that once they have written a will, they store it in a safe place and tell their executor, close friend or relative where it is.”
For further information please contact Marc von Grundherr at Benham and Reeves Residential Lettings on 020 7938 3522 or www.brlets.co.uk
View all posts by Benham & Reeves