New Revised 2nd Edition is out now!


As noted on page 5 of the Book, on this page will be posted:

  • any significant developments either in the law or in practice after 1 November 2022,
  • any amendments to the text, and
  • any notable changes to the content of the forms on the website.




 (A)  Significant Developments in Law or in Practice after 1 November 2022

Budget 2024

The Budget of 6 March 2024 proposed substantial changes to the pensions regime with effect from 6 April 2024, as mentioned in the penultimate paragraph on page 56 of the 2nd Edition of the book.  These changes go beyond the scope of the subject matter of the book.  And detailed professional advice is needed for anyone affected.

Budget 2023

Very significant changes to the pensions regime were proposed by the Budget of 15 March 2023, including abolition of the Lifetime Allowance from 6 April 2023 and changes to the
Income Tax rate at which particular payments from a pension scheme would be taxed. All this was confirmed in Finance (No 2) Act 2023.


Intestacy Rules (see page 25 line 1 of the 1st Edition and page 29 para 3 line 2 of the 2nd Edition)

The Statutory Legacy for a surviving spouse or civil partner was increased from £270,000 to £322,000, for deaths on or after 26 July 2023.


Probate Fee (page 73 para 3 of the 1st Edition and page 80 para 3 of the 2nd Edition)

The flat probate fee of £273 where charged has been increased to £300 from 1 May 2024.


 (B)  Amendments to the Text

1. Corrections to the 1st Edition Text 

*Page 16 (The ReSPECT Form)
Line 3: replace 2016 with 2020.
Lines 7 to 12: delete and replace with: emergency, in particular whether cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should be applied.
* Page 44, third paragraph – the penultimate sentence should read: ‘Mum paid each of us an annual rent, on which we paid Income Tax’. (20 February 2023)
* Page 73, the third paragraph should be replaced by: ‘If the value of the estate is no more than £5,000, there is no Government fee for applying for probate.  If more than £5,000, the flat fee is £273 (on top of course of any professional charges).’ (8 March 2023).

2. Additions to the 1st Edition Text (12 March 2024)

Your Legacy (page 3)

Part of that living life to the full is considering what Legacy you will leave behind you, in terms not of what you may own, but of who you are. Here it is of course perfectly legitimate
to think of achievements, things you have done over the course of your life. But I wonder whether most of us would not consider as much more important in this context the
relationships we have enjoyed and nurtured, in particular with our family and our friends. Hence the importance of the content of Chapter 3 – The People who matter to you and
especially the issue of giving and receiving forgiveness for words or acts which have caused a rift (see the second paragraph on page 40). And then there’s what you may leave behind in terms of the story of your life, to help foster fond memories after you’ve gone (see pages 53 to 55 for Photographs, Your Papers and Memoirs).

Warning (page 7)

The law of tax and pensions in relation to estates is very complex. The rules (and particularly the reliefs and exemptions) can change within a day or two without publicity, whether by a decision of a Court, by a regulation made by Government or by a revised interpretation from HMRC. Only a specialist can monitor such changes on a daily basis. Consequently, the information in this Book can only provide suggestions to look into areas which are well worth considering, but before you take any action professional advice is essential.

Your Stage of Life (page 10) 

If you have an ‘other half’, it’s worth thinking about how the survivor would manage if one of you goes. This could range from cooking or managing the home to paying the household bills or handling the family finances. If you are accustomed to a division of responsibilities in any of these areas, it might be worth considering a degree of sharing and indeed some tuition (both of which could be quite fun) to help prepare the survivor.

Lasting Powers of Attorney – Health and Welfare (Page 14)

An advance decision will be respected by the doctors even after you may have lost mental capacity, provided that certain conditions are satisfied (see referenced in Appendix 7 on page 98). For example, it should not pre-date a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney and must be sufficiently clear.

The Position in Scotland

‘Continuing Powers of Attorney’ take the place of LPA’s. An advance decision is called an ‘advance directive’. There is as also something called an ‘anticipatory care plan’ which
includes some but not all of what I discuss below. Readers based in Scotland should check their own position with a lawyer or a doctor in Scotland.

The ReSPECT Form (page 16)

The ReSPECT form has been adopted in many parts of England and Scotland, though not yet in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Next of Kin (page 16)

The legal definition of next of kin is as its name suggests the one or ones who are closest to you in the bloodline.  This has a particular application in the case where a person has not left a Will, in which case those who are entitled to your Estate are as set out on page 25.  A similar priority operates in terms of who can apply to be the Administrator(s) of your Estate – to do what Executors do where there is a Will.

But the other situation where a person who is to be treated as your next of kin becomes important is where decisions have to be made on your behalf when you are no longer in a
position to make them yourself.  This is especially on matters of health, where the hospital might ask ‘Who is your next of kin?’.  And here, while the answer may well be your closest relatives, in fact you have a choice.  And this is where the importance of Lasting Powers of Attorney (whether for Property and Financial Affairs or for Health and Welfare are
concerned) comes in: see pages 11 to 15.

Guardians for Minor Children (page 16)

For the factors which you might consider and indeed keep under review, I can do no better than refer you to the really excellent discussion in Marjie Sutton’s book Living to Finish Well – Clearing the decks to make space for life! (which you’ll find referenced in Appendix 7 Some Useful Resources – see below – Chapter 5 THE YOUNG ONES – Caring for your greatest treasure on pages 55 to 62. And have a look first at for who has parental responsibility at law.

Your Preparation (page 20)

You will find on the Which? website a useful discussion of the options, including likely costs and arranging a funeral plan. See

Preparing for the End (page 20)

None of us knows when this will happen. There is a perhaps surprising statistic that fewer than 25% of deaths in the UK are sudden, whether caused by accident, violent assault and so on. That said, the percentage does increase with age. This means that the vast majority of deaths are expected, which gives one the opportunity to prepare. This is not just in terms of getting one’s affairs in order in general terms (the subject of this book), but also in particular spending precious time with those we love. I remember this well in the case of my late Mother who died in May 2010, beginning with her world gradually narrowing down in the final months before the last weeks and days. And, quite simply, she wanted to be with her family close by her at the end.

Dr Kathryn Mannix whose excellent book Listen I have referenced in Appendix 7 (Some Useful Resources) – see below – has produced an extraordinarily helpful and indeed comforting four-minute clip on what actually happens as the body closes down (see on You Tube ‘Dying for Beginners’ by Kathryn Mannix). It is sensible for everyone, whatever their age and state of health, to make Lasting Powers of Attorney, along with an advance decision, an advance statement or a ReSPECT form (all as discussed on pages 11 – 15). However, once, whether on account of age or medical condition or both, a life-limiting health condition arises and while mental capacity remains, it is sensible to consider putting down in writing some more specific wishes. This is the point at which ‘curative care’ moves into ‘palliative care’ (the length of which will be uncertain). On the subject of mental capacity, dementia is currently the leading cause of death in England. Its early stages can be hard to determine and, to meet the possibility of subsequent legal challenge to the validity of documents signed by the patient, it is advisable for capacity to be assessed by a specialist. The overall aim of making clear your specific wishes is to help others (both your medical advisers and your family) to enable you to achieve ‘a good death’.

This you could do in one of a variety of ways, whatever best suits you. The particular suggestion which I like is putting together what is known as an Advance Care Plan, guidance
on and examples of which can be found on the websites of a number of charities (Age UK, Macmillan and Marie Curie, among others) and indeed of various NHS authorities. For
example, my own, the Norfolk County Council and Suffolk County Council can be found at and putting in Advance Care Plan in the search box.
Typically, the Advance Care Plan will detail your wishes on the type of care or treatment you would prefer to receive; the place where you would like to be cared for, so far as possible; and who would be responsible for making any health and any financial decisions on your behalf (which is where the Lasting Powers of Attorney come in, though attorneys can only contribute to any health decisions, as the ultimate decision-making remains with the doctors). And then you would confirm where you have set out any legally binding decision to refuse particular medical treatment. As to the place where you would like to be from time to time, this will depend on where you live and may be any of: your home, a care home, a hospice or your local hospital. At a hospice, circumstances would dictate when and whether this might be as an in-patient; or at a day unit; or managed at home; or at an outpatient clinic.

The Plan may be something you choose to put together yourself or in conversation with members of your family. In any case it is often something to be done in stages rather than
all at once.

Separately, those who are at risk of heart disease or heart failure may find it worth thinking about having a specific Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form made with their GP. This would be kept in an easily accessible place near the front door, if not within a wallet or purse, so that if the heart stops and the ambulance arrives, production of the form should stop the crew from attempting emergency resuscitation in the case that the individual would not have wanted it.

Finally, if you do have one or more specific medical conditions or are taking medication of any kind, you may like to think about completing the Health App on your mobile phone and removing the password, so that if necessary it can be easily accessed by an emergency medical team or doctor.

Burial or cremation (page 21) 

The insurance company SunLife has reported that in 2023 direct cremations (that is, without a service and with return of ashes to the next of kin) made up about 20% of funerals. As to average costs, according to SunLife these are (in 2023): £5,077 for a burial, £3,795 for a cremation and £1,498 for a direct cremation.

What happens if you don’t make a Will – the Intestacy Rules (page 24 and 25)

The effect of the ‘forced heirship’ rules in Scotland means that particular relatives (typically a surviving spouse/civil partner and children) cannot be disinherited.
For the detail of the different rules in Scotland and Northern Ireland, have a look at, referenced in Appendix 7 on page 98.
In the absence of a Will those who will administer the estate (as do the Executors under a Will) are called ‘Administrators’.  Here the above order of priority to inherit the estate operates, to determine the order of priority in which application can be made to the Probate Registry for what is called a Grant of Letters of Administration.

Making and Updating Your Will (page 26)

Just as a witness to the signature of the person making the Will is excluded from benefitting under the Will, so is their spouse or civil partner.
Remember that marriage revokes a Will, except for a Will made ‘in contemplation of marriage’ (to a particular individual). Similarly, with a civil partnership. So a new Will
should be made in that event. While divorce of a marriage/dissolution of a civil partnership does not revoke a Will, it effectively revokes any entitlement of the former spouse/civil
partner. This happens by interpreting the Will as though the former spouse/civil partner had already died. Depending on the terms of the Will, this could create a partial or even a
total intestacy. And so it will be important to review the Will in that case and ideally make a completely new one.

Your house/flat and any other land (page 47)

Where you have a lease, your Executors should be aware of the continuing obligation to meet both ground rent obligations and service charges. In some cases there may be
a requirement to pay a percentage of sale proceeds to the freeholder.

Bank/Building Society Accounts and any Investments (page 49)

Remember that any part of a loan made to a family member or a friend which remains outstanding at your death will form part of your estate. Hence the mention of ‘loans owed to
me’ under Other Possessions in Appendix 5 List of Possessions on page 93. Depending on all the circumstances and if you can afford to do so, you might consider writing off the loan (by ’Deed’, which requires a witness), so converting it into a gift: your further survival by seven years or more will prospectively save your estate 40% in Inheritance Tax.


The first thing to say is that the pensions regime is horribly complex and that this is a VERY bare summary on which you should not rely: professional advice is essential. Note the
Warning on page 7.

On your death you may have a prospective entitlement either under a defined benefit pension (also known as a final salary pension), to which you and your employer have been contributing, or under a money purchase pension (also known as a personal pension, such as a Self-Invested Personal Pension or SIPP).  In either case you should consider what will happen on your death.

With a defined benefit pension, what happens in terms of procedure and so tax implications rather depends on the pension provider’s own rules, which you should try to find out, in particular because they may override your wishes.  They will certainly want to have a copy of your up-to-date Will.  And you should let them have a specific nomination of your chosen recipient(s) of any amounts payable after your death.

With a money purchase pension, you should nominate your chosen recipient(s) to the pension provider, though this will not be binding. The value on death irrespective of
age will normally pass free of Inheritance Tax (subject to one rare exception). There is a big difference between dying under the age of 75 and having attained at least age 75.   If you die aged under 75, the recipients (as designated by the pension provider) can draw the fund value at any time, free from any Income Tax (or Capital Gains Tax) also, but note that the freedom from Income Tax depends upon notification to the pension provider of the death within two years and upon the sum concerned being less than the lifetime allowance (or higher protected amount).   If you die aged at least 75, while there will still be no Inheritance Tax liability (subject to that one exception), the withdrawal of funds from the scheme will attract Income Tax in the recipient’s hands at their marginal rate.  While it may be sensible in financial terms for the value to go to a surviving spouse/civil partner, this rather ‘wastes’ the Inheritance Tax exemption (unless the whole remaining fund will have been spent by the second death).  It all depends on your respective ages and
states of health, on your overall financial circumstances and on the value of the pension fund within that.  If you want your surviving spouse/civil partner to have access to the
pension fund after your death, there may be a case for transferring the value to a settlement established for the purpose, where under current rules the Inheritance Tax
liability would be limited to 6% at most every ten years – and the rate may be much less than that.  The vital thing is to make a (non-binding) nomination to your pension provider of your chosen recipient(s).

Alternatively, you might have started drawing on your pension by the time you die, whether defined benefit or money purchase.  If defined benefit, again the position will depend on those specific rules.  Under a money purchase arrangement, the income will be being paid to you either as an annuity or by flexi-access.  If flexi-access, the pension fund remaining on death can be transferred to any nominated beneficiary, whether spouse/civil partner or children.  For purposes of the lifetime allowance any inherited pension can be held alongside their own, without eating into it.  As above, if you die before age 75, there will generally be no Inheritance Tax liability, though there could be Income Tax to pay if the amount exceeds your own lifetime allowance.  If after age 75, there is no lifetime allowance test and any withdrawals from the inherited pension fund will attract Income Tax for the recipient.  The standard lifetime allowance was £1,073,100 in 2022/23 (although some savers have locked into higher amounts).

Very significant changes to the pensions regime were made by Finance (No2 Act) 2023, including abolition of the lifetime allowance (though it does continue for some purposes).
Further substantial changes will take effect from 6 April 2024: see the Updates tab on the website for developments here.


Insurance Policies (page 50)

You may also have taken out Professional indemnity insurance, where you are or have been a professional adviser such as a lawyer, accountant, chartered tax adviser, architect,
quantity surveyor, etc. In such case your Executors need to consider carefully the terms of cover in relation to whether you were still practising at the date of your death or when you stopped practising and the possibility of run-off cover to take potential liability beyond the reach of your estate at a certain date.

Inheritance Tax Exemptions (Page 59)

The first £325,000 (the ‘nil-rate band’) of your Estate is free of tax, with the balance charged at 40%. The rate of 40% is reduced to 36% if gifts to charities or registered clubs total 10% or more of the amount otherwise chargeable at 40%. This is subject to ‘tapering relief ’ on the rate of tax charged, where the gift exceeded the nil-rate band of £325,000 and more than three years have passed since the date it was made. In addition, there is a residence nil-rate band of £175,000 which applies where a property which has at some time been the residence is left to a direct descendant (which includes step-children, adopted children and the spouse/civil partner of a descendant). The residence nil-rate band is tapered once the chargeable estate exceeds £2 million and disappears completely if the estate exceeds £2.5 million. To the extent that either nil-rate band is not used on the first death of a married couple or a civil partnership, the unused percentage can be passed on to the second death.

Inheritance Tax – Budget 6 March (page 62) 

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt proposed no immediate Inheritance Tax changes.  Replacement of the non-UK domiciled regime for Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax from April 2025 will
include consultation on moving Inheritance Tax from a domicile to a residence-based regime. Land managed under environmental agreements will qualify for agricultural
property relief with effect from 6 April 2025.

 Setting the Scene (page 68)

And have a look at, the Government website, which is sub-titled What to do when someone dies: step by step – referenced in Appendix 7 Some Useful Resources on page 98.

Obtaining the Death Certificate (page 69)

The Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) is signed by a doctor, typically in the hospital or nursing home, or the GP if death occurs at home. The doctor will email the
MCCD to the General Register Office appropriate to the deceased’s postcode. The doctor will then telephone (or email) the applicant to confirm that that has been done, so enabling the applicant either to complete the application form online or to make an appointment to see the Registrar.

HM Government’s ‘Tell Us Once’ Service (page 70)

For a very significant supplementary service to the ‘Tell Us Once’ facility see Life Ledger is a service which assists families in preparing for and then
navigating a death. You can store details of the accounts you have with a whole variety of companies and service providers, and upload important documents. After the death this will enable notification to all the companies listed. And, with everything in one place, those who are left behind will be helped to deal with the administration. For those who want to prepare ahead of time, there is an annual cost of £12.

The Probate Procedure (page 73)

You should be aware that Probate is not required in every case. For example, if your only possessions are an interest in your home and/or bank accounts which you own as ‘joint
tenants’ (see page 46) with your spouse/civil partner, Probate is unlikely to be required, as your interest will pass to the survivor by operation of law. Similarly, if at death you have
savings in your own bank account of no more than £20,000. Your Executors should check with any relevant financial institution (or other regulator of ownership) whether they need to see a Grant of Probate before they will register the change of ownership.

What about Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax during the administration period?

See for a very helpful summary. No report needs to be made to HMRC if the only income received during the administration period was bank or building society account interest of less than £500.  Informal arrangements apply to so-called ‘simple estates’, where:
* the estate was valued at less than £2.5 million at death;
* the total Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax due is less than £10,000; and
* the Executors do not sell more than £500,000 worth of assets in any single tax year during the administration period.

In such case, the Executors should send a letter to HMRC at the end of the administration period, giving the information set out on HMRC’s website. HMRC will then tell the Executors how to pay any tax due. Where the informal arrangements do not apply, the Executors should register the estate online (on or before the 5 October after the end of the relevant tax year) and file self-assessment returns and pay the tax due (on or before 31 January after the tax year) for as many tax years as are applicable.

Moving Forward (page 74) 

At the end of the administration period the Executors will draw up the Estate Accounts. Your death will almost inevitably change the financial position of your surviving spouse/civil
partner or other co-habiting partner. He or she may be entitled to Bereavement Support Payments. And if both parents of a minor child have died, the person looking after the
child/children may be entitled to the tax-free Guardian’s Allowance (on top of Child Benefit).

Appendix 7 – Some Useful Resources – Books (pages 96-98)

Mannix, Kathryn, Listen – How to Find the Words for Tender Conversations (William Collins 2021) This is an extraordinary ‘must-read’ book, my having heard Dr Kathryn Mannix deliver the annual Theos Lecture in London on 1 November 2023. Kathryn is a palliative care doctor and in wonderfully gentle language opens up the way to having a whole variety of conversations, whether on the part of the one who is dying or that of their family and friends. She writes on page 142 ‘ … talking about death won’t make it happen. But not talking about it robs us of choices and moments that will not come again.’ Kathryn uses a variety of real- life stories to illustrate her points.

Mannix, Kathryn, With the End in Mind – How To Live and Die Well (William Collins 2017) In this extraordinary book, Kathryn Mannix brings together a whole range of real-life stories of people dying and those they leave behind, drawn from her 40 years’ experience as a palliative care doctor. Her aim is to remove the taboo of conversations about death and the mystique and fear of dying. She says “By encountering death many thousands of times, I have come to a view that there is usually little to fear and much to prepare for”. Yes, there is of course great sadness, but equally much both to comfort and to inspire.

Sutton, Marjie Living to Finish Well – Clearing the decks to make space for life! (Living to Finish Well 2022) This is a great, very easy-to-read, book, published just two months before my own and in many ways with a whole series of overlaps. Written from an unashamedly (though quietly expressed) Christian perspective, Marjie invites us (in the words of reviewer Tony Summers) “to reflect not only on our own mortality, but also the needs of those that will be left behind when we die.” For me, the particular value of the book is its very gentle but deep treatment of relationships, as well as the discussion on appointing Guardians (to which I have referred on page 16).

Wyatt, John, Professor Dying Well, Dying Faithfully (Inter-Varsity Press, 2018) – In the words of the author, “this book is my practical and down-to-earth guide on how to approach the final years, months and days of one’s life. I focus in particular on the mediaeval documents called ars moriendi – drawing on old wisdom to relearn the art of dying well and faithfully. This work seeks to offer clear direction, warm reassurance and confidence in the One who has already conquered death.” I warmed very much to everything written in this book, whose Christian faith underpins it.

Appendix 7 – Some Useful Resources – Websites (pages 98-100)

Advance Decisions/Statements 

The website of the charity Compassion in Dying enables (in its own words from 2016) “a person to draft an Advance Decision or Advance Statement online for free. The website
takes users through different scenarios they may experience if they lose capacity to make decisions, whether due to illness or an accident. People then get a personalised Advance
Decision or Advance Statement to print, sign, witness and share, something which could make a significant difference to getting the care that is right for them.”

Bereavement – 

This well-known charity is the market leader in providing practical information and nursing & pastoral support in circumstances of
terminal illness, dying and bereavement.

Bereavement –

Run by the bereaved for the bereaved, the Trust (in its own word) “exists to help all those affected by grief in the UK. Our vision is to help
those bereaved from day one, acknowledge their grief and provide reassurance, a virtual hand of friendship and ongoing support.”

Cancer support –

The leading charity about information on and diagnosis, treatment and support of cancer.

Company Shares

This is a very useful set of procedures on what to do when a shareholder dies.

Death –

This Government website (sub-titled What to do when someone dies: step by step) is a comprehensive guide to “what to do after a death, from registering the death to arranging
the funeral, from notifying government departments to applying for probate. Find out how to check if you can get bereavement benefits, how to value the estate and how to apply for inheritance tax.”

Death and Dying, Attitudes to

Christian think tank Theos published in November 2023 a major report, which (in its own words) “covers some of the significant changes that have occurred in the funeral industry
and explore the varying reasons – be it personal finances, market-led pressure, or a decline in religious affiliation – as to why these changes have occurred. The report looks how
relationships are central to understanding much of the pain humans experience around death and asks the important question: what is the role of the church in this?”

Funerals and Funeral Plans –

This is a useful discussion on the Which? Website of the options, including likely costs and arranging a funeral plan.

Intestacy –

This Government website details the different effect of the various laws in Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as in England and Wales (summarised on page 25 above),
as well as advising what the Executors should do where the deceased died domiciled outside the UK.

Later Life –

In its own words, Age UK is the UK’s leading charity for older people, offering friendship, support, advice and services on various topics such as care, pensions, benefits and health.

Palliative Care –

In its own words, the charity “supports people through the most difficult times of their lives. We provide free, compassionate care to those affected by life-changing illnesses.” 

Parental Responsibility –

In the case where both parents of one or more minor children have died, this Government website explains who has
parental responsibility at law.

Post-death Administration –

A Keylu account (in its own words) ‘provides one central, safe and secure place to store and manage all of your important personal, legal and financial information, together
with precious photographs’.

Post-death Administration –

Life Ledger is a service which assists families in preparing for and then navigating a death. Self assessment returns for the Executors –

Self assessment returns for the Executors –

This Government website explains the circumstances in which, and how, theExecutors should submit tax returns to HMRC (see page 73).


(C)  Amendments to the Forms (and the Text)

Page 82: Comprehensive Checklist (3 March 2023)

Add 11A Financial Assets

Yes Date Yet to do

Page in Book

(as added)

Have I considered what happens to my ISAs? 49
Have I taken steps to make notifications to my pension provider(s) of my wishes, including nominating a beneficiary? 50