Is your Will fit for purpose?
You’ve made your Will. That’s brilliant! Did you know that this puts you in the top third of the country? An astonishing 67% of the UK is leaving it up to the Government to decide how their estate should be distributed.
So now you have made your Will what happens next?
Well, rather than leaving it safely tucked away until it’s finally needed, you should be getting it back out on a regular basis to check that 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.
There are many things which can change over your lifetime which would require a change to your current Will such as:
- Family circumstances, e.g. marriage, divorce, births, deaths, serious illness etc.
- Financial circumstances, e.g. buying or selling property or a business, retirement, winning the lottery, receiving a large inheritance etc.
- Gift giving, e.g. wanting to leave money, property or items to one or more charities
- Changes to the ever-shifting inheritance tax system
Some of these events will happen quickly and without warning, others you will know are coming and can plan for them.
We’re not saying 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 find that nothing needs changing. 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You will be so glad you checked because an out of date Will can sometimes be worse than having no Will at all.
What can happen if your Will is out of date?
Here are just 3 real life examples where an out-of-date Will caused trouble:
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 of the past 12 years and their two young 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 from the previous relationship to provide for them, or ultimately sue them for a portion of the estate.
2. 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.
3. 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.
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?