I Owe You Nothing – A Look At Inheritance
Hello everyone do you like the title of my post? Those of you who are of a certain age may remember it as the title of a sing by the 1980’s boy band Bros. I have to confess I liked Bros as a teen and bought the single, but luckily for you the post is nothing to do with it.
What are you on about then I hear you ask? Well, what I’m actually going to discuss today is inheritence.
Inheritence may seem like an odd subject for a blog post, especially as I’m planning on living forever. And even if I did die I have nothing of value to pass on to anyone. However it came to mind the other day when I saw an advert for this equity release thing.
What is equity release?
To put it in its most simple form, equity release involves unlocking the money someone has tied up in their home. The homeowner is given either a lump sum, or steady income by an equity release company. The money will be repaid with interest from the sale of the home once the homeowner has died.
There can be problems about the security involved in such schemes. Such as in how likely is it that the homeowner will be allowed to stay in their homes till they die. And also, the risk of extortionate fees being charged when the homeowner dies.
However in principle I think its a great idea. If someone has invest all their working life in a house why shouldn’t they get something back at the end of it? Well there is an obvious answer to that.
What would I leave to my children?
A big reason for people not releasing the equity tied up in a property is that it forms part of the inheritence pot for their children. Its comforting for people to know they will pass on a bit of security to their kids when they pass away.
However it seems quite often, rather than providing comfort and security, the whole issue of inheritance just provides troubles and strife within a family. I’ve seen this happen multiple times over the years to family and friends.
There have been family memebers who dispute who has been left what. At other times family members have tried to take things they shouldn’t from their deceased relatives home or bank accounts.
Sometimes the issue of inheritance has create problems long before anyone has died. Older parents who worry about spending their own money on anything other than necessities because the money is their kids inheritance.
Other times children feel they have a rightful claim on their parents home or money above other people, and are very vocal if they find out ‘their’ inheritance is going to be left to other people. This seems to be particularly aparent when step families are added into the mix.
With all the grief thats caused by inheritance its no suprise that we hear about cases where people disinherit their families and leave all their money to charities or other organisations. And thats fair, right? I mean its their money so they can do what they want with it. Well, you might think that’s true, but actually the law would disagree with you.
Why can’t you give all your money to charity?
This is because of a little known law called the 1975 Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act. The act was designed originally to stop step parents taking all the money when their spouce diez, leaving the children impoverish (we all know about Cinderella right).
The law expects parents to provide for their children in their will. This may seem perfectly reasonable, but there are some cases where the application of the law could be questioned. One such story came to my attention recently, although it is from a few years back.
The case of Melita Jackson and Heather Ilott is not an unusual one. Heather did not have a good relationship with her mother Melita and left home at 17 to live with her boyfriend. There were a couple of failed attempts at reconciliation over the years. For which both sides appear to be at fault. So when Melita died in 2004 she was still firmly estranged from her daughter. In an attempt to stop Heather recieving any of her £500,000 fortune she left it to 3 animal charities.
Rather than going down the usual route of claiming the person wasn’t of sound mind when they wrote their will, Heather challenged the will using the 1975 Inheritance Law. She stated her mother had a legal responsibility to provide for her. And had acted out of malice and spite by leaving the money to charity. She was initially awarded £50,000. This was later upped to £164,000 before finally being reduced back to £50,000 in 2017.
Although a far smaller amount than she wanted, the fact that Heather got any money at all is clear proof that a persons money is not theirs to leave as they wish on their death.
It would seem the issue of inheritance is vaste and fraught with problems. So going back to the start of the post, I think the idea of equity release is a sensible one. Letting people avoid the problems caused by inheritance by spending it all on themselves while they’re still alive.
What do you think of the whole issue of inheritance? Do you think people have the right to disinherit their kids? Have you got a terrible inheritance story?
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