With this week being ‘Update your Will Week’, a scheme run by The Association of Lifetime Lawyers Solicitors (formerly the Solicitors For The Elderly) highlighting the need to keep your Will and estate planning under review, our Private Client Department at Monan Gozzett LLP has been reflecting on the common scenarios they see that trigger a need to update your Will.

Research commissioned by The Association of Lifeitme Lawyers last year shows that only 56% of respondents in the South East have updated their Will within the last five years, meaning four out of ten Wills in the region are out of date.

Five years before that research was carried out, the Residence Nil Rate Band was introduced.

An additional tax relief, which is now worth £175,000.

The introduction of this significantly changed the way that we provide estate planning advice.

The statistic above is, therefore, very concerning as it means that 4 in 10 people have not received the most up-to-date Inheritance Tax advice when creating their Wills.

There are constant changes to the law surrounding Wills and Probate, and it can be difficult to read between the scaremongering headlines to extract the information that’s relevant to you.

Keeping in regular contact with your estate planning advisor will mean you can keep on top of any changes that may affect you and the distribution of your estate.

We suggest that you review your Wills independently every year and update us with any changes that have occurred in your lives. We regularly come across Wills that are 10/20+ years old, and whilst this may not necessarily mean they need changing, they definitely need to be reviewed.

Marriage and Civil Partnership

Many people are aware that when you marry or enter a Civil Partnership, any Will you had prior to this is revoked, and the intestacy rules will dictate the distribution of your estate.

However, don’t assume that just because you are married, everything will now pass to your new spouse, as this may not be the case. It is therefore vital that you seek advice and either make a Will prior to your big day, which contains wording within the Will that it is not to be revoked, or you make a new Will soon after.

Dissolution and divorce will also have an impact on your Will. If your divorce has not yet been finalised and you do not have a Will, your spouse will still benefit from your estate under the Intestacy rules.

If you do have a Will, and they are a beneficiary, they can still inherit from you. Once you’ve consulted a Solicitor to initiate divorce proceedings, the next step should be to remake your Will, even if you do still intend them to inherit from you on your death.

A New Birth Or Death In The Family

The death of a loved one is usually one of the worst points in our lives, and bereavement will affect every single one of us.

Not only do you have to grieve that loss, but often we see shifts in family dynamics which can be difficult to adapt to.

The same can be said for new births in the family, new mouths to provide for shift people’s priorities and it is important to make sure that those who depend on you are provided for if the worst was to happen. A grandparent may also wish to think about updating their Will to benefit their new grandchild, whether they’re the first grandchild or to make sure they receive the same as the other grandchildren.

If a beneficiary in your Will dies, there could be unintended consequences to your estate planning. Money you were leaving that person could now pass to the backup beneficiaries you’ve stated, or it could mean that your estate is subject to a partial intestacy.

Getting professional advice in this situation will give you peace of mind that your estate will pass in accordance with whatever your wishes may now be.

A New Diagnosis

When facing a terminal illness, dementia or another life-changing diagnosis, your world is turned upside down. Understandably, updating your Will is the last thing on your mind.

Many people find that their priorities change following such news, and thoughts turn to easing the pressure on their loved ones, which may have an impact on their estate planning.

Many people believe that if you have dementia, you are no longer able to make a new Will. This is not the case. The capacity to make a Will is not dependent on any diagnosis you may or may not have.

However, when facing a degenerative disease like dementia or Parkinson’s disease, the sooner you can update your Will, the more likely it is that you will have the required level of capacity.

It also means that we can take any steps needed to record evidence of your capacity to safeguard your estate against any challenges brought after your death. This may be by recording a meeting, liaising with your GP, or commissioning an independent mental capacity report from one of the experts we work with.

Buying Or Selling Property

Moving home is considered to be high on the list of the most stressful life moments.

Whether you’re moving for more room to expand your family, investing in a buy-to-let, relocating or downsizing, a change in your estate’s cash vs asset balance can have serious consequences for your estate planning.

Updating your Will is not likely to be top of your priority list, but it is important to ensure that any succession planning you’ve put in place is still practical and achievable in a different property, especially if the property is significantly higher or lower in value than your previous home.

If you co-own your property with someone other than a spouse, it is also prudent to consider any formal declaration of the arrangement between you and your obligations to each other.

How We Can Help

Whether your circumstances have already changed or are going to change, Stephen Sampson and Jess Riseborough have combined experience of over 20 years, providing advice on how changes to your life can affect your Will.

For further information on our free initial consultations, contact our Private Client team on 0207 9366329.

Do you have any questions about the subjects raised in this blog? Feel free to fill in the form below and we will do our best to reply to you:

If you would like to speak to our expert legal team about this, or any related subject then please contact our team by phone on 0207 936 6329, Email or by completing our Quick Contact Form below.