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Many people 'unaware if parents have wills'

Tue 08 Mar 2011

People in the UK have been urged to discuss later life financial planning with their parents, as many do not know if their mothers or fathers have made a will.

A survey by NS&I found that nearly one in three Britons know little or nothing about the financial plans their parents have in place.

Figures also showed that 36 per cent do not know how their parents intend to distribute their assets after they die.

NS&I warned that this could cause problems further down the line, as the process of tying up their parents' affairs could be made more stressful if they do not know the details of their finances.

Indeed, almost half of those polled said they do not know where their mother or father stores their important documents, such as deeds to their house and bank account details.

NS&I acknowledged that later life financial planning is a "sensitive subject", but insisted it is an "important issue which affects everyone".

Hugh MacDougald, a partner at Winckworth Sherwood Solicitors, commented: "Many people (parents or otherwise) have never given much serious thought to their death and therefore to their wills or estate planning - let alone discussed it with their children or heirs.

"There are many aspects to the process, legal, financial, fiscal, emotional - and finally what might be termed 'expectation management'.

"Discussing the minutiae with your children erodes (somewhat) your discretion to change your mind if circumstances change.

"In rare cases it may be appropriate to have the discussion.

"However most 'children' would be happy just to be reassured that their parents were taking honest and independent advice from reputable and skilled solicitors who specialise in estate planning and who will be able to look the 'children' in the eyes following their parents' death and be able to say 'We did the best possible job we could in advising on the management, planning and documentation of your parents' wishes in the best interests of all concerned'."ADNFCR-2761-ID-800449285-ADNFCR

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