New Year, New Will?
If you have a will it is worth reviewing it on a regular basis, just reading it once a year and talking it over with your legal advisor can ensure that you keep it up to date and have in place a will that accurately reflects your wishes.
It is not uncommon to see cases where a person has passed away with a very outdated will which might appoint Executors and Trustees who have also passed away, are very elderly or have even moved abroad. The will might have been drawn up so long ago that it does not include all grandchildren or perhaps even all children. The will may have given legacies of amounts which seemed substantial when the will at the time yet transpired to be quite small when the will came into effect or may have given items which were no longer owned leaving disappointed beneficiaries.
If you do have a will does it still accurately reflect your wishes? Are your Executors and Trustees still the right people for the job? Have you named guardians for your children? If you have are those guardians still appropriate? Are all of your children and grandchildren included? Are any gifts you have given still appropriate amounts or of items that you still own?
Although your circumstances may be the same those of your beneficiaries may have changed and it could well be worthwhile reviewing your will in light of those changes. For example, if one of your beneficiaries is in receipt of means tested benefits or is divorcing, it might not be appropriate to leave a share of your estate to them.
Have you considered your will in light of the current inheritance tax position and have you considered whether estate planning is appropriate for you? Through an appropriate will and estate planning you can greatly reduce the inheritance tax which will be payable from your estate.
If you do not have a will in place it is essential that you consider making one. You may well be satisfied that your estate would pass to your chosen beneficiary or beneficiary in the event of your death but have you considered what would happen if those beneficiaries did not survive you?
People often assume that if they are married or in a civil partnership their entire estate will pass to their spouse or civil partner and this it not always the case.
If you do not have a spouse or civil partner and you leave children then your estate will pass to those children but without a will you cannot appoint Executors and Trustees or Guardians or determine the age at which those children have control of any estate you leave.
If you have a partner but you are not married or in a civil partnership that partner will not be entitled to receive any share of your estate regardless of how long you have been in a relationship or whether you have children together.
If you have a will, take a few minutes to review it in light of your current circumstances and those of your beneficiaries. If you do not have a will consider what would happen in the event of your death both if your next of kin survives you and if they do not.