What is the cost of dying with an outdated will?
Research suggests that a combined £175 million in assets is lost each year to bereaved families if a relative dies intestate or with an outdated Will.
Dying intestate or with an out-of-date Will typically costs heirs £9,700 in"lost" assets, a study has claimed.
Research by paid-for Will registration service Wills & Assets found that 175,000 Britons struggle to track down the assets left by deceased family members, missing sums of up to £20,000 per late relative.
Bereaved heirs often turn to costly solicitors or probate detectives known as "heir hunters" to track down missing money. This costs families an extra £2,250 in fees after a loved one's death.
Half of British people fail to draw up a Will, according to the research which surveyed 1,978 adults.
Even individuals who leave a Will risk leaving relatives out of pocket if they fail to update their assets regularly.
Maurice Clarke, chair of industry body the Heir Hunters Association, said money can be forgotten or lost over decades until they are tracked by probate researchers.
"A massive fortune remains hidden in banks and financial institution which are often missed in even well-made wills," he said.
Dying without a will does not always leave family members out of pocket, however, should the inheritance be straightforward. Mr Clarke said: "Not getting around to making a will is fine where their next of kin are on hand and can easily collect a deceased person's estate."
Neil Fraser, partner at Fraser & Fraser, the probate investigators featured in BBC documentary "Heir Hunters", said that his firm recovered up to £20,000 to families trying to track down lost assets. He said: "Most of the time family members know about the assets, but some people keep money to themselves, even if they are expecting to die.
A common pitfall for families tracking down assets is making sure they declare them to HMRC. Inheritance has to be declared to the taxman and must be reported. "It's far better to report assets early to avoid suspicion from HMRC that you're hiding them deliberately," Mr Fraser said.
'Update your will every two years'
Stephen Foden, from Wills & Assets, advised people to update their will every two years.
He said: “No one wants to think about what will happen when they die but failing to do so can leave loved ones with significant problems and stress at an already very tough time." Source: The Telegraph
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This message was added on Wednesday 19th November 2014