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Is your Will fit for purpose?

You’ve made a Will! That’s brilliant – statistics indicate that around 2/3 of the country have not made a Will. That’s 2/3 of the country who are leaving it up to the Government to decide how their estate should be distributed.

So what happens next? Well, rather than leave it now safely tucked away until it’s finally needed, you should really be getting it back out on a regular basis to check that’s it’s still up to date and fit for purpose. We at Else recommend that you review your Will at least every 3-5 years, and possibly sooner if something significant happens to your circumstances.

Lots of things change over our lifetimes – family circumstances (marriage, births, deaths, divorce, serious illness), financial circumstances (buying or selling property or a business, retirement, winning the lottery), and of course the ever present but often changing inheritance tax system. Some of these events will happen quickly and without warning, others you will know are coming and can plan for them.

What we’re not saying is that every time you review your Will you will need to change it and make a new one. There may be several times that you read through it and nothing has changed. But you will have peace of mind knowing you checked, because there will come a time that you read through your Will and think ‘oh no, that’s not right,’ or ‘I really should change that bit,’ or even ‘I can’t remember what that clause does!’

You will be so glad you checked, because although I hesitate to say it, an out of date Will can sometimes be worse than having no Will at all. Here are 3 real life examples :

  1. A lady wrote a Will leaving everything to her sister. Her sister died and the Will was not updated. As there were no substitute beneficiaries named in the Will, the estate fell to be distributed under the Intestacy Rules. In this case this meant everything was divided between the deceased’s other 5 siblings, or where they had also predeceased her, their children. We do not know whether she would have been happy with this or not.
  1. A couple who are not married but have 2 young children. The chap made his Will 15 years ago when he divorced his wife – the Will benefits his two adult children from that marriage. He did not update his Will and died unexpectedly. His partner and the younger two children are now in a position where they do not benefit from the estate under his Will and most of the assets were in his sole name. They have to rely on the goodwill of the older children to provide for them, or ultimately sue them for a portion of the estate.
  1. A gentleman wrote his Will while in a relationship leaving everything to his girlfriend. The relationship broke down, he did not update his Will and on his death everything passed to her.

So, whilst the responsibility rests with you to remember to review your Will, we are here to help with that process. Whether you need help just understanding some of the clauses, have a few small tweaks to make or need a completely new document we can tailor our services to your needs.

Right, that’s the Will reviewed and sorted – now … have you ever thought about Lasting Powers of Attorney…

If you need guidance in respect of your Will, please contact Kathryn Caple, Partner and Head of Wills and Probate at Else Solicitors on 01283 526200.

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