Thousands of American Families Face Ruin

By: Don Westacott

This Report:
exposes a crippling tax that has already ruined thousands of affluent American families and will continue to do so.

What is worse, as more people realize the American dream they too will become unwitting victims.

As this tax is enshrined in Law all citizens of the United States are subject to it.

You and your family will suffer this Tax if you become even moderately successful.

An eminent Lawyer has stressed that the root of the problem is the public’s ignorance of the facts and the steps they need to take to CANCEL- OUT their share of the Tax

The document that follows will lead you through the steps you must take to make sure your family is saved from the ravages of this tax which will strike when you are least able to defend yourself.

The irony is it will cost you little or nothing to do it.

A spouses and partners, Survival Document

I am presenting this report to stimulate you into taking the action necessary to protect your loved ones from unnecessary hardship at the time of your death. Because most people do not like to face the thought of their own death and even less to discuss it with their partners many fall into the trap of estate duty and misdirection of their assets when they die.

Making a will and estate planning do not hasten your death but these actions will dramatically reduce the intense shock to your family caused by your lack of preparation for the inevitable .

I urge you to read the contents, and when you get to the questionnaire, answer the questions and then give your questionnaire to your spouse or partner and ask her/ him to do the same.

If you find that both you and your spouse/partner can say yes to all the questions, you are to be congratulated on your foresight.

If however you can't, or your answers differ from those of your spouse/partner,

The irony is it will cost you little or nothing to do it.

A spouses and partners, Survival Document


Any authorised professional such as an independent financial adviser or a solicitor will be well aware of the problems associated with an untimely death, and of the devastating effects caused by the lack of planning.

They will be able to highlight the benefits of proper planning and illustrate for you how to reduce the economic and also the emotional distress to your family when the inevitable occurs.

The rules of Intestacy

When a person dies without a will, (intestate), their assets are distributed in an order of priority, and whilst that order does include the deceased’s spouse (in many circumstances). it does so only in respect of some of the assets.

In this situation an unmarried partner often fares worse than a married spouse.

The surviving spouse, always inherits the personal chattels, i.e. the car, the jewellery etc, but not necessarily all the money, investments and savings.

Where there are surviving children of the marriage the spouse is entitled to only 75,000 pounds but any items from a business are excluded.

If there are assets in excess of this figure then any surviving spouse is entitled to a Life Interest in one half of the residue, which then passes on to the children on the death of the surviving spouse.

The other half of the assets pass to the children immediately.

Where there are no surviving children, the surviving spouse, is allowed up to 125,000 pounds, plus the personal chattels, plus one half of the residue of the estate, whilst the other half of the estate passes to any parents or brothers and sisters of the deceased.

Where there is no surviving spouse, a complex set of rules, determines the distribution of assets to the relatives.

Because of the rise in house prices, many people now have estates worth in excess of 75,000 pounds or 125,000 pounds and in these circumstances the absence of a will is a recipe for financial disaster.

Note:- information on the rules of intestacy are subject to amendment, and the figures are subject to increase by the retail price index.

Jointly held property is a major cause of confusion, because there are two ways in which property can be jointly owned i.e. as joint tenants or as tenants in common (tenants in this instance means owners).

If the property is held as joint tenants (many houses and bank accounts are held in this way) then on the death of one of the joint tenants, the half share cannot be disposed of by a Will, as it automatically accrues to the survivor.

Property held as tenants in common, can be freely disposed of by a will.

A Valid Will

To be valid in English law, a Will must comply with the following

1) A person must be 18 to make a will.

2) They must know what he /she is doing .

3) They must take account of any moral or legal obligations to beneficiaries.

4) The Will must be in writing and signed at the end of the document in the presence of two witnesses (who must both be present at the same time).

5) Both witnesses must sign in the presence of the person making the Will.

Care over the choice of witnesses

Since it is not possible for a witness to benefit under the Will, witnesses must be chosen carefully. Husbands and wives of beneficiaries cannot be witnesses to the testator’s signature.

What happens if a beneficiary dies before the testator?

If you benefit somebody in a will and they die before you do, the gift becomes void. If the gift is a specific one, the asset forms part of the residuary estate. However, if the gift was a share of the residue, then the rules of intestacy will decide who inherits. This makes it very important to review a will, in the event of the death of one of the beneficiaries.

Change of Will

A Will has no effect until the person or testator dies. Until that time comes, it is only a declaration of intent and as such, can be altered, amended or revoked at any time before death occurs.

It is possible to revoke a will in any of the following ways :-

1) By destroying it.

2) By making a new Will or adding a codicil.

3) By marriage, divorce or subsequent remarriage.

Deeds of family arrangement

A “Deed of family arrangement" is a way of re writing a will after the death of the testator.

This is allowed for, in section 17 and 142 of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984.

This of course, requires the agreement of all the beneficiaries and must be done within two years of the death of the testator.

It is not possible to obtain inheritance tax relief on a second deed of arrangement, which seeks to vary, a former deed.

It is therefore important to use these tax planning instruments properly at the outset.

If the client has considerable assets, a large number of beneficiaries or complex asset holdings where there is a need to exercise control after the death, it may be much more sensible to use the Will to set up a Trust or several trusts to give effect to more sophisticated financial planning. Instead of bequeathing all the residuary estate to a spouse, it may be better to give a Life Interest. This does have the advantage that it is possible to ensure that the children eventually benefit.

Some people are concerned that the remaining spouse may remarry, and that the property may then pass to the new spouse, and thereby defeat the children's interests.

It is possible to give a spouse, a life interest that terminates in event of remarriage. Flexibility can be incorporated by including powers to make loans to the spouse to deal with any future problems of hardship or special needs for capital.

The death of both the spouses/partners together

Professional help

Clients are strongly recommended to consult a solicitor to draw up a Will rather than try to do it themselves. The cost of making a Will can be quite modest, unless the client has complex financial affairs. Having made a Will, it is essential to update it every few years.

It is said that solicitors take more fees from writing the wrongs created by do-it-yourself wills, than they do in preparing an original

Estate Planning

Estate planning should be directed not only at the reduction of taxes, but also at the basic human needs for peace of mind, adequate money and freedom from fear and ignorance. Too little estate planning is actually accomplished. Only 7% of those whose families would benefit from planning actually do it. The vast majority of people will probably die without having made a will. Even when planning is accomplished, the usual result is incomplete and fragmented. Estate planning fails to satisfy the human needs if it does not include the involvement and education and preparation of the surviving spouse or partner.

The objectives of estate planning

1) The efficient disposition of assets under current legislation

2) A plan to transfer assets via gifts, trusts and wills as appropriate.

3) Adequate cash to meet known and anticipated needs, particularly on the death of the breadwinner

4) Minimisation of taxes.

5) Durability including the management of the property and business interests of the breadwinner after death.

6) Compassion to satisfy, not only the material, but also the emotional needs of the spouse and children.

Items one to four are usually part of most estate plans, but items five and six are necessary to provide a solution that will not lead to a fragmented incomplete and painful result.

The odds are three to two that a woman will survive a partner or spouse if they are of the same age and these odds are increased greatly for each year the husband’s age exceeds the wife’s.

In America, women own 52% of all quoted shares and about 65% of all private wealth. Women are the beneficiaries of 60% of all life policies, they inherit 68% of all estates and bequeath 40% of all taxable legacies, but it is estimated that 80% of widows have run out of benefit from the life policy proceeds within one year of their husband’s death.

One third of all husbands die from an accident that occurred, or an illness that commenced less than 24 hours prior to their death, leaving little time for desperation planning.One out of every six women over 21 years of age is a widow, the average age of a widow is 55 years, proving this situation is not confined to older women.

Widows bear the tragic brunt of neglected, inadequate and mistaken estate planning. Women suffer from a lack of involvement, ignorance, a lack of ability, and lack of good advice until it's too late.

When a husband or partner dies, the spouse experiences two kinds of shock.

Emotional shock and Security shock.

Emotional shock at the loss of a loved one can give rise to deep depression and feelings of guilt or remorse. Strong support from children, family, friends and church are essential at this time.

Security shock first strikes, when a widow discovers there is insufficient cash for their own and the family's needs. Then, it builds up and as they discover they are responsible for the problems of probate, business, investment and taxation decisions, without the requisite knowledge or experience to cope with these problems.

Compounding security shock on top of the emotional shock at the loss of a loved one creates really intense shock for the remaining spouse/partner. Security shocks can be eliminated,-- if the spouses involve each other and their families in the debate and the decisions on the following matters:-

Adequate money to meet known the future needs

Money will do two things for a surviving partner that no other shock absorber can do.

First it pays estate debts such as taxes and protects other assets: an estate,

the business and a home.

Second, it permits a family to go on living with comfort and dignity.

Wives particularly should be concerned about the needs for money upon the death of their husbands/partners, because as widows they may have the problem of raising it or doing without it.

The question is simple-- should the problem is solved by the wife and husband/partner together--or solely by the widow?

An understanding of estate planning concepts

The main reason for neglect is the failure of people to understand what estate planning is and how they may achieve its benefits.

These are the essential elements of estate planning.

1. a) The fact-finding stage.

b) Problem identification

c) The solution

2. The six objectives of estate planning as outlined previously.

3. Estate planning is an activity for the living, not just a death related activity.

4. Estate planning is essential for both small and large estates.

5. Both husbands and partners belong on the estate planning team.

6. A periodic estate planning review is desirable.

7. Time is the most critical raw material of estate planning and family security.

A widow's probate role

Wives are not interested in estate planning but every widow is desperately interested in it.

If a wife understands what she will have to go through in a probate, she may become interested. The actual functions/procedures and steps in routine probates break down into three categories :-

The functions that have to be performed by solicitors.

The functions to be performed by an executor.

Those functions in which the widow and family should be involved and participate. Some of these functions include major matters or decisions such as the drawing up of a list of the assets; the sale of the business; the sale of property; raising money for Taxes, settling professional fees; insuring the estate assets, and the settling debts/mortgages.

Once a wife takes the time to learn what probate is, how it will affect her and what her role will be, she will become vitally interested in good estate planning.

The action and information necessary to cushion the shock of the death of your spouse/partner.

Up-to-date Wills

The shock of intestacy and its resulting problems is one of the most frequent and disastrous of all estate planning tragedies, particularly for large estates-- resulting in inadequate assets for a wife, costly and cumbersome guardianships and other serious problems.

Be warned :-

if a spouse acts as a witness to the other spouses/ partners Will, in which he/she is a beneficiary, the Will is invalid.

It produces considerable shock for a widow, when it has to be explained to her that the Will is invalid, and that she will only be entitled to a greatly reduced portion of her husband's assets.

An informal estate-planning letter from the husband/partner to the wife

The letter may discuss the location of important documents, also who the wife should consult for advice in various areas, what securities or assets should be retained and which should be sold, the wishes expressed to a widow and children, particularly to wives and daughters about remarriage.

Information about properties and management of the same,

a list showing the desired disposition of properties having sentimental value and information relating to such important matters, as domicile, gifts and remaining pension benefits.

The effective use of Trusts.

There are some wives, who may not have the desire or the ability to manage properties or to assume the many of the functions which burden widows.

In these situations, the extremely flexible and effective tools, known as “trusts" can be utilised to relieve the widow from these burdens.

Business problems and arrangements.

One of the most difficult problems in administering estates, and often a great burden for a widow, is whether certain business interests, (including ongoing business or business properties) are to be retained or whether they are to be sold. If they are to be retained, what will be the source of the money to pay the tax and who will manage the business interests?

Also if the business interests are to be sold, are there any existing agreements?

Unfortunately too many businessmen leave these unresolved problems on the shoulders of their widows.

A businessman should decide whether his business interests are to be retained or whether they are to be sold. Thereupon, the husband should arrange solutions to implement the decision. If the business is to be sold the best person to negotiate a potential sale is the husband, while he is living, not the wife in an atmosphere of tragedy or perhaps in a forced liquidation.

Taxes, gifts and property concepts.

At the outset of the planning procedure, a list of assets should be drawn up and the current value of the estate should be calculated.

This should then be projected forward at regular intervals to reflect the rise or fall in value through growth and inflation.

Adequate insurance.

Often it is not possible to give away assets during one's life in order to take advantage of inheritance tax gift allowances. The solution in such cases is to make provision for cash to be available to pay the tax and leave the assets intact for your beneficiaries.

This is where life-insurance is the ideal answer to provide the money when it is needed in the most cost-effective way

When insurance is being considered for estate planning, attention should be given to disability insurance, as a loss of income through injury or sickness can destroy the wealth created from a lifetime of work.

A documents file should be created

The most common complaints of widows during probate is the lack of organisation and ready availability of documents, data, accounts, records, tax returns etc.

The file should include:

1. Estate planning review-- a schedule of appointments for estate- planning reviews.

2. Location list-- a complete list showing the exact location of all important data and documents.

3. Wills -- include copies of wills for both spouses/partners.

4. Estate-planning letter-- include a copy of the informal estate planning letter

5. Trusts -- include copies of the client's trusts.

6. Life assurance list -- include a complete list of life assurance policies on the life of the client and his spouse/partner, together with a description of their location.

7. Business agreements -- include copies of the business agreements.

8. Deeds -- include copies of deeds to properties owned by the client and or spouse.

9. Other documents -- include copies of the other estate-planning documents such as affidavits, powers of attorney, etc.

10. Estate-planning facts -- include a copy of the estate-planning fact-find questionnaire that was used in conjunction with the plan.

The documents portfolio is a complete estate planning data-bank. It is an organiser, a questionnaire for husbands and wives and a checklist and motivator.

It is Your Spouses/Partners, Survival Kit.

Taxation and other estate planning problems cut across and affect more lives and activities than any other economic concept.

Estate-planning is the only means available to the individual to defend his property freedoms-- his rights to accumulate, enjoy and transmit properties to his loved ones, and his rights to protect property from the ravages of neglect and taxation.

Now make two copies of the questionnaire that follows.

Complete one copy yourself by answering yes or no as appropriate and ask your spouse/partner to complete the other. Wherever your answers are different you need discussion where the person who answered Yes needs to inform the other of the right answer,

Where you both answer No you both need outside help. This may come from reference books or a specialist Lawyer or Financial Advisor etc.

Be advised; take action, while you still have the time.

Your Tax Mitigation Checklist

Copy this for each spouse/partner

Each person to answer these questions separately from their own Knowledge

Fulfilling this questionnaire and providing Yes answers will not only resolve the tax problem it will also reduce the emotional stress upon the death of one of the spouses/partner.


Have you discussed with your spouse/partner

the requirement for money in the event of his/herDeath? Yes----- No---

Have you taken account of the following needs?

Access to immediate cash during probate. Yes---- No---

Liquid funds to meet the estimated estate tax. Yes--- No---

Ongoing income for the remaining

spouse and family. Yes--- No---

Education cost for children

if applicable. Yes--- No---

I understand the need for Estate planning and the need for me to be and remain involved in it. Yes--- No--

I understand the need for periodic

revue of our plans Yes--- No---

I am aware of the things I have to do for Probate and the decisions I will have to make Yes--- No---

I know the advisor I should consult in the event of my Spouse’s/partner’s death for the following advice

1) Legal. Yes--- No---

2) Banking Yes--- No---

3 Life Insurance Yes--- No----

4) Business/accounting Yes--- No----

I have a current and complete will and my

spouse/partner knows where the original is kept Yes--- No---

I have a letter from my spouse/partner, that tells me his/her wishes for the disposition of his/her assets and effects.

Yes--- No---

We have discussed how our debts will be met ie:-Mortgage, Inheritance tax, expenses, etc. Yes--- No---

I am aware of the ways to reduce tax through Lifetime Gifts and the division of assets between spouses, etc. Yes--- No---

I am aware of the need for Disability insurance should one or other of us become disabled. Yes--- No---

We have completed a file of all the necessary documents, such as our Wills, insurance policies, marriage certificates

Medical cards, pension, investments, bonds,etc, and I know where it is kept. Yes--- No----

I am aware of the emotional trauma that the death of my Spouse /partner will bring and I have thought how to support myself emotionally and physically. Yes--- No---

Business Owners

My spouse/partner has discussed their business interests with me and I know about the following

If the business is to continue I am aware of the Continuation plan including future manage and the settlement of shares and taxes. Yes--- No---

If the business is to be sold I am aware of the Agreements and theirlocation. Yes--- No---

I am aware of the plans to continue or sell the business and the role I have to play in it Yes--- No---


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