Millions die with no will or protection in place, causing huge financial burden for families
For many, death is a taboo. Some fear dying too young, while others can’t stand the thought of a loved one passing away. But the pandemic has taught us that anything can happen in life… And death, in fact, must happen. As of now, we humans have close to no control over that.
Statistics show that two in three adults in the UK having no will or protection in place – a figure that reflects the lack of awareness among Britons of the risk that their death can pose to their families.
Now might be a good time to overcome the fear of talking about death, which is what pushed the creators of FRisk to launch their tool – a free intuitive app that produces individualised FRisk Scores confirming the level of risk someone’s family is likely to face if they were to pass away without effective planning in place.
Think of it as the equivalent of a credit score in the context of death.
Generating a FRisk score is incredibly helpful to plan ahead so that there are no extra burdens for those left behind after someone’s death.
Martin Holdsworth, founder and MD of Frisk Reports and IDR Law Solicitors, set up the free report service after years of experience of helping families whose loved ones had died without planning ahead. He said: “I have been dealing with the resolution of family disputes following the death of an often close relative for over 25 years. Cracks between siblings expand to gulfs without the common ground of a shared parent.
“What you leave behind after you die matters, even if you are not around to see it. Having dealt with thousands of disputes on death over the years, it is not difficult to see patterns emerging. The vast majority of disputes arise because of a lack of communication and planning for death.
“Invariably this stems from a simple lack of knowledge of what exactly happens to everything you care about on your death.
“The reality is that everyone — and I mean everyone — would benefit from getting planning and protection in place.”
Conversations about death aren’t easy but can avoid serious financial issues for the future
“Do you know what happens to your children on your death if they are under 18 at the time? How about your organs? How much tax will your estate have to pay? Your share of your home?” he asks, before digging into the importance of keeping one’s online services and social media accounts safe and accessible to a trusted contact, so that they can be handled with responsibility if needed.
“Anecdotally, it will not surprise you to hear that many of us actually create a will in response to a mortality event that hits close to home – the death of a loved one, friend or perhaps a serious illness survived.”
Three years ago, Martin and co-founder Sandro Forte wondered why people waiting until a moment of “personal distress” to “get things sorted”.
They thought: “How can we personally communicate to everyone what the effect of their own personal death would be on those they leave behind?” Martin explains.
“If we could personalise this warning, without actual trauma, and then provide an instant link to organisations that can actually help put the right protection and planning in place, then that could work, couldn’t it?”
And so, the FRisk concept was brought to life.
Every family should consider dedicating some time to planning their finances, for present and future
Co-owner and managing partner Sandro decided to join forces with Martin after experiencing shockwaves on a personal level: “In 1976, when I was just seven years old, my dad, Leo, was diagnosed with lung cancer. I don’t, in all honesty, remember his two-year battle against a dreadful disease – but I clearly remember what happened after he died in 1978, leaving my mum, Carol, a widow with four children… and I was the eldest.”
FRisk is a wake-up call for the millions of people with no will or protection in place for their own death.
FRisk is a FREE intuitive app that produces a FRisk Score confirming the level of risk your family and loved ones would face were you to die without effective planning in place.
Use FRisk to find out your personal FRisk Score, including what would happen to your children; who is entitled to your estate; who can bring claims; how much tax you would pay; what would happen to your pets and your digital estate, plus much more.
Get your FREE FRisk Score now by clicking here.
Like so many others, Sandro’s father assumed that his assets would automatically pass on to his wife – so, he left no business handover, no life assurance and no will.
“Within two years of my father’s death my mum was declared bankrupt,” he says.
She couldn’t maintain their home nor assume the costs that come with looking after a family.
“By the time I was 13, we were living in a council house and really struggling. That was also the year my mum remarried, and Dave became my stepfather. He was an incredible role model and really helped to shape my life; he was, without a doubt, my best friend.”
After graduating from university, in 1989, Sandro joined a financial services firm. He then saw a chance to get a conversation about financial planning going with his mother and stepfather.
“But I did what so many of us do; I procrastinated, believing there would be a ‘better time’ to discuss what I knew was a bit of a ‘taboo’ subject. It took me two years to find the courage to have that discussion but, as a result, we put a sound plan into place in December 1991.”
Just two months after setting it all up, Dave was diagnosed with aggressive stomach cancer, dying just six weeks later.
“Since then, I have been on a mission to ensure as many people as possible know about the importance of financial planning – even in its simplest form it can literally save a family from financial ruin.”
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Sandro’s loss encouraged him to advocate for people to steer away from DYI wills.
Wills are extremely important, allowing you to decide who should benefit from your estate and who you not.
For the document to be valid, however, it must be legally sound and written by a professional will writer.
“A DIY will is exposed to being declared invalid if the terms of the will are ambiguous,” explains Sandro. “This will mean it fails to effectively dispose of your assets in the correct manner.”
Professional wills that “have stood the test of time and overcome legal scrutiny for centuries” are essential for effective financial planning.
“If the will hasn’t been properly witnessed it would be deemed invalid. If any amendments to the will have not been properly structured this too could invalidate it.
What to watch out for unqualified writers, Sandro warns, as they don’t always understand the intricacies of will clauses, which can result in errors and legal issues.
Key points to consider
- Gifts automatically pass to someone else if you don’t specify a fall-back provision
- If someone you have included in your will dies before you do, the asset may pass to someone other than intended
- If there’s an inheritance tax liability and provision has been made to pay the resulting tax bill, some of your assets may have to be sold to pay HMRC
- Problems occur if you no longer own an asset at your death that has been specified in your will, and if you have several assets of the same description but of different financial value (e.g. rings) there can be confusion
With no correct will in place, even one’s property could be at risk
A complete will should answer questions about the protection of assets left to your children in case they are underage, address family pets, and contain specific instructions on the use of funds, e.g., if you’d like them to go to charity.
Without adequate provision stated in the will, any assets and overseas property will be frozen or could be inherited by someone other than intended.
If an individual wants another person to continue living in their property after their death, an incorrectly-written will — which is more often than not the case with DIY wills — could end up with that person being forced from home.