“No Pockets in Shrouds” You can’t take it with you… - The Law House Family Law Solicitors, London & Peterborough

“No Pockets in Shrouds” You can’t take it with you…

By in Wills, Trusts & Probate Category on September 21st, 2017


You really can’t take it with you.

The truth is you won’t find pockets sown into a shroud. The “No Pockets in Shrouds” is relatively well known proverb. It dates back to the mid 19th century means quite simply that worldly wealth cannot be kept and used after death. In other words you can’t take it with you when you die. This does not stop people trying though! Few people today are buried in shrouds often favouring their favourite “I look absolutely fabulous” outfit or beloved team’s football kit. You will most certainly find the odd pocket which will contain a treasured possession or two.

If you don’t make a Will then light a bonfire and burn your assets!

Having worked with bereaved spouses for a many years I have often pondered what the proverb really means. It feels profound and final and should be uttered in a knowing and sombre tone of voice. On a more surface level you really can’t take it with you and there is no Tesco express if you are stuck in a queue on the way to heaven or hell!!.

Then I think about people who don’t make Wills. The lost opportunity to do some inheritance tax planning and to pass your hard earned assets onto the next generation is enormous. If you don’t make a Will then you may as well leave instructions to put all your money in your coffin and let it burn with you for all the good that it will do after that!

Some pretty bad, but not uncommon secnarios.

 Husband dies without making a Will (intestacy) – under intestacy rules the estate is divided between the wife and the children. Not a problem you might think? Wrong, if some of the estate goes to the children then there is a possiblity of inheritance tax on his death. Had he made a Will and left everything to his wife (to the children if she too had died) then there would be no inheritance tax on her death. When she eventually dies her estate has the benefit of being able to take advantage of £650,000 free of inheritance tax.

My parents didn’t quite get divorced and then mum died. Mum had a Will and left everything to Dad. Because the divorce wasn’t final dad now wants the house and to move his new family in. Not many people know that if you die before your divorce is final and you have a Will that leaves everything to your spouse then potentially they will still inherit. Think about it, dad could now leave everything to his new family!!

My father remarried and died without making a Will. I inherit nothing from the estate. I know he would not have wanted this to happen.” Many people assume children will take first priority in the event of your death and are automatically provided for. This simply isn’t the case. In the event of your death, the first £250,000 of your estate will automatically pass to your spouse. Your house is included in this sum. The remaining amount divided into two pots, one pot to go to your spouse and the other pot will divided between any children or grandchildren. If the total value of your estate is less than £250,000 then there is a good chance your children will not inherit.

My second husband and his children have inherited 50% of the house, the house I still live in. His children want me to move out so that they can have their inheritance now.” Tom is a good example. He meets Nancy after his divorce. He has two grown up children. The house is in his sole name. Tom marries Nancy and again the house remains in Tom’s name not Tom and Nancy’s names.

Tom dies two years later. The chattals go to Nancy. The first £250,000 of his estate automatically passes to Nancy. What is left in the estate is £147,000 and this is split into two pots. One pot of £73,500 goes to Nancy and the remaining pot of £73,500 goes to his two children. But the house that Nancy lives in is currently worth £390,000. Nancy’s inheritance only covers £323,000 of this value. She can’t afford to buy Tom’s children out of their share. The children are now putting pressure on her to sell the house so that they can have their inheritance now. Had Tom made a Will he could have made provision for Nancy to reside in the property.

To die without making a will is to create a minefield of potential heartache, personal and financial hardship. Family feuds add to the expense for those you leave behind. Would like expert advice on making a Will and providing for your family after you have died? Then either call me, Eilish Adams, on 020 3150 2525 or email me at eadams@thelawhouse.com .