For most of us updating our Will is the last thing on our ”to do” list. In today’s busy lives, not only are there too many, far more pressing (and interesting) things to do, it can also serve as an untimely reminder of your own mortality. However, for most the peace of mind that one can achieve from knowing that you have properly considered and provided for the best possible financial outcome of your nearest and dearest – just when they need it most – far out-weigh the inconvenience.
Private client partners Andrew Hasnip and solicitor Matthew Parr consider when it should be changed – and the downsides of putting it off.
Andrew Hasnip comments, “Many people consider that once they have done a Will once, then they can forget about it. However, a Will is a fluid document and should reflect your circumstances. As and when those change in terms of your finances, family, friends or tax position, so should your Will. For this reason it is important to consider reviewing your Will on a regular basis, perhaps every 3-4 years.”
Matthew Parr adds, “Whilst most people would be doing well to do even that, there are a number of circumstances which should automatically trigger an immediate review of your Will if you are to avoid potentially expensive and unintended consequences.”
Death of a Beneficiary
A professionally drafted Will will often make provision for the death of a main or sole beneficiary but should a beneficiary pre-decease you it is worth considering whether the inheritance that they would have received is ‘diverted’ to another beneficiary of your choosing or simply left to be administered according to the intestacy rules which may not accord with your wishes.
You may have recently become a parent and you may wish to consider whom to appoint as Guardians of your child or children. You may also want to provide for your child in your Will or make a specific provision for any grandchildren that may arrive in the future.
Your Will is automatically revoked if you get married unless it is drafted specifically in contemplation of a particular marriage. Your family will have to deal with an intestacy if you do not make a new will in those circumstances.
Any gifts to your spouse will be automatically revoked on divorce but should your entire estate be left to him/her then it is worth considering whom you wish to inherit in their place.
Mental Incapacity of an Executor
A Will remains valid even if none of your original chosen Executors are unwilling or indeed unable to act because they have died. Solicitors are common choices for Executors because of their expertise but also because it is highly unlikely that the appointed firm will be unable to act in many years to come.
Dying intestate can lead to unnecessary inheritance tax liabilities, disputes between family and friends and ultimately not making a Will is a false economy. Having a Will drafted by a professional may be less expensive than you anticipated and could provide you and your family with much needed peace of mind.
If you would like to discuss any of the above matters or make a will, contact Andrew Hasnip or Matt Parr