Independent financial advice following the death of a loved one

Author: Dave Worrall

Chartered Financial Planner

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Whilst money is almost certainly not the first thing on your mind following the loss of someone close to you, there comes a time when attention turns to dealing with the financial matters of the estate and the beneficiaries who are left behind.

At such an emotional time, it is understandable that the process may feel extremely daunting, with many feeling especially vulnerable in the months following a loss.

This is one of the primary reasons that it can be so reassuring to seek professional financial advice and support early in the process, both to take on the responsibility of affairs being handled in a timely and efficient manner and also to ensure that crucial mistakes are not made in dealing with an estate that may lead to increased taxation or costs to the family.

Some areas of consideration are:

Where there’s a Will there’s a way…

While it is often assumed that the majority of people have a Will in place, according to the Office of National Statistics, approximately 60% of people in England and Wales die intestate (i.e. without a valid Will). In this situation, the deceased’s estate is handled in accordance with the laws of intestacy, which is often out of keeping with the wishes of either the deceased party or the wider family set to receive an inheritance. The key initial message here is to ensure a valid Will that is truly reflective of your wishes is arranged by a legal adviser on your behalf.

A person’s last Will and Testament will set out their wishes for the division of their estate. However, it is often the case that family dynamics have changed since the Will itself was written. Following the instructions left in a Will may be inefficient from a tax perspective, or certain parties may not wish to receive an inheritance due to their strong financial position.

A Financial Planner can work with a family’s legal advisers to build an understanding of their circumstances and suggest alternative tax-efficient ways to structure financial arrangements. This may include the implementation of a Deed of Variation or possibly even suggesting that one party disclaims an Inheritance. Both of these can be carried out within a period of two years from the date of death.

Deed of Variation & Disclaimers

This is a legal document that offers a flexible approach, allowing the original beneficiaries to redirect part or all of their interest in an estate. This can potentially reduce either an Inheritance Tax or Capital Gains Tax charge, or even ensure available reliefs (such as Business Relief) are not wasted.

Individuals who do not wish to benefit from an estate have the right to ‘disclaim’ their full entitlement. Unlike in the case of a Deed of Variation, a person disclaiming their inheritance has no control over who receives their share of the estate.

These are just some of the financial considerations when dealing with the estate of a loved one, and the potential pitfalls of failing to seek advice are too plentiful to list here.

We recommend that anyone facing the challenge of dealing with an estate seeks professional legal advice. At MM Wealth, we work with our clients’ legal advisers to provide joined-up solutions.

Contact us

If you require any support and advice in relation to handling the estate of a loved one, please speak to a member of our financial planning team on 01223 233331 or email


Opinions constitute our judgment as of this date and are subject to change without warning.  The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up, and you may not recover the amount of your original investment.

The information in this article is not intended as an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities or any other investment, nor does it constitute a personal recommendation.

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate estate planning and tax planning.

The information contained within this blog is based on our understanding of legislation, whether proposed or in force, and market practice at the time of writing.  Levels, bases and reliefs from taxation may be subject to change.



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