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30 day survivorship clauses in wills

(31 Posts)
cartoonheart Thu 17-Jan-13 14:18:48

why are they set out 30 days? is this just the norm? or can it be sometimes longer or shorter?

(i'm in the uk)

prh47bridge Thu 17-Jan-13 15:09:40

It can be anything up to 6 months. It certainly isn't always 30 days. I believe 28 days is also pretty common.

cartoonheart Thu 17-Jan-13 15:15:19

is there a reason why its 30 days (or 28 days)?

IfYouCanMoveItItsNotBroken Thu 17-Jan-13 18:53:45

I believe that it's in case 2 people are killed in a common calamity (I recall these words from uni and think they were used regarding this!). It may be that they can't tell which of a husband and wife died 1st in an accident and therefore who inherited the estate from the other. I think if one lingered a while, say in a coma for a week, then it would avoid paying inheritance tax twice, as assets would not have passed to the survivor then to the eventual beneficiaries, simply once to the back up beneficiary of the person who died 1st`s will.

cartoonheart Fri 18-Jan-13 00:10:24

is it that it is often 30 days to do with how long it usually takes to deal with an estate? are there advantages at it being a different length?

mumblechum1 Fri 18-Jan-13 10:24:22

I'm a will writer and always say 30 days, but have also seen lots of wills which say 28 days.

I think it is just a sensible time for the reasons set out in IfYouCanMoveIt's post.

IfYouCanMoveItItsNotBroken Fri 18-Jan-13 11:23:57

If the estate is worth a massive amount maybe a longer survivorship clause again could avoid inheritance tax liability, if a beneficiary was infirm already. But I'm not sure. It's unusual (in my not so vast experience) for the entire estate to be wound up and distributed within 28 days so doubt it's due to this. If it's a tiny estate, eg a couple bank accounts, that doesn't necessarily require a grant of confirmation then a month is doable, but usually it's not as quick as this.

cartoonheart Fri 18-Jan-13 14:52:25

thanks. maybe mumblechum1 knows more - or perhaps there are other will writers or lawyers on the boards who do...

MOSagain Fri 18-Jan-13 16:23:53

I think you'd be hard pushed to find another lawyer and will writer on here who knows more about wills than Mumblechum

cartoonheart Sat 19-Jan-13 01:08:58

well i guess if she(?) does this every day for a living, she may very well know the answer...

mumblechum1 Sat 19-Jan-13 09:49:19

Back again! OP, the reason for the 30 day clause is just to smooth through the administration of your estate, but also to avoid having two lots of executorship expenses (and possibly Inheritance Tax).

If the clause isn't there, and Mr & Mrs X are killed in a car accident, but no one knows who died first, or if one survives for a week or two then dies, then Mr's estate passes, albeit briefly, to Mrs. Tax may be payable in two tranches, depending on their wealth, and there are two estates so two lots of executorship expenses, and there may well be different executors appointed for each of them under their wills. There's a lot of unnecessary administration and possibly also expense.

With the 30 day clause, it doesn't matter who dies first, if they both go within those 30 days. There is only one estate to administer and only one calculation and payment of tax. (The tax issue isn't so important now that theres is rollover relief for spouses)

When I explain this to my own clients, I just explain that the 30 day clause is there to smooth through the administration of their estates if one of their beneficiaries dies within a month after them, as the beneficiary is treated as having died before them.

cartoonheart Sat 19-Jan-13 13:09:55

thanks... but why is it 30 days? i had wondered if it was do with how long is usually takes to deal with an estate?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 19-Jan-13 13:12:37

Cartoon heart, lots of things in law are 30 days, or 28 days, or 14 days etc - it's just what is common, to use something around a week or a month or a fortnight. You rarely see random things like 53 or 71 days.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 19-Jan-13 13:13:12

Ps - not a lawyer, just talking about contracts I've seen!

cartoonheart Sat 19-Jan-13 13:42:17

oh sure, i understand - but why not 60 days for example? thanks...

florencedombey Sat 19-Jan-13 13:49:08

30 days / 28 days is just the traditional survivorship period to use, for the reasons Mumblechum gave. To be honest, I tend not to use them at all these days because it is very very rare to have two deaths so close together and if you are not careful, survivorship clauses can have unexpected effects with regards to inheritance tax and other issues.

cartoonheart Sat 19-Jan-13 13:56:25

could it be advantageous to have a longer period... say a few months? i guesss the disadvantage would it may take longer to deal with estate perhaps? how long do estates usually take to deal with? thanks

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 19-Jan-13 14:00:09

Cartoon, I suppose it's just reasonable to think that if two people are fatally injured in the same event, both will die within 30 days if the event was the cause; if survival of one is longer than that then there's an increasing likelihood it's something other than the event that killed them (eg an unrelated illness).

cartoonheart Sat 19-Jan-13 14:10:14

oh yes i quite understand - and car crashes and such are presumably the original thinking i why these clauses came about...

but i think you can have these clauses up to 6 months and it be legal?

i'm not a lawyer and not had many people die on me... and am not sure how long estates usually take to deal with...

florencedombey Sat 19-Jan-13 14:12:29

I wouldn't use a longer survivorship period unless there was a particular reason (can't think of one at the mo!). The trouble is, the survivorship period leaves the executors "in limbo" because until it has passed, they don't know who would inherit. Say you have a will that says "I leave £100,0000 to A if he survives me by one year, and if he doesn't then that £100,000 goes to B instead". The executors would have to invest that £100,000 for a year while they waited to see if A survived or not. They wouldn't be able to wind up the estate until the year had passed, leading to increased costs.

cartoonheart Sat 19-Jan-13 14:32:43

so the costs of waiting mean that it's better to keep it to a relatively short period - and 28/30 days is thought a good guess at this clause being useful in case of a car crash or similar...

mumblechum1 Sat 19-Jan-13 14:36:04

It's not that unusual to have people die close together. I did wills not so long ago for an elderly couple and the man died 2 weeks after his wife.

cartoonheart Sat 19-Jan-13 15:59:21

but i guess it is statistically unlikely...

cartoonheart Sun 20-Jan-13 13:03:29

(thanks some great information here)... though still not quite a definitive answer

mumblechum1 Sun 20-Jan-13 13:05:38

OP, you seem a little, erm, obsessed about this! grin Lots of people have explained the reason why it's 30 days. Not sure what else you need to know?

cartoonheart Mon 21-Jan-13 13:26:39

so is it the costs of waiting mean that it's better to keep it to a relatively short period - and 28/30 days is thought a good guess at this clause being useful in case of a car crash or similar then? thank you

cartoonheart Mon 21-Jan-13 14:37:29

(incidentally, wasn't meaning to be a pain in the bum, mumblechum1... and do appreciate all previous answers)

(also, not a lawyer - so perhaps am not good at getting my head around these things)

mumblechum1 Tue 22-Jan-13 13:46:31

It's partly to prevent having 2 lots of executorship expenses and partly to speed things up so that the distribution of one estate isn't slowed down because it's entangled in that of the other.

cartoonheart Tue 22-Jan-13 14:08:17

And the costs of waiting around for 6 months which i still think would be legal mean its better to get it done in 28 or 30 days and that 28 or 30 days would be still considered a useful period in case of a car crash or similar

cartoonheart Wed 23-Jan-13 12:07:00

.

Ladyflip Wed 23-Jan-13 21:37:39

It doesn't mean that the first estate is finalised within 28 days, just that you have to survive the deceased for 28 days before you become entitled to inherit (acquire a vested interest is the technical term). It's not "illegal" to wait for 6 months, if that's what you want, but it does mean the beneficiary cannot receive any money from the estate during that period. Which could present difficulties.
It usually takes a few months to deal with an estate but can take years, it depends on the assets in the estate. If, for example, you have to sell a house, you will have to wait until you can find a buyer, which can take a while. There is no fixed time period.

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