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Five good reasons to review your Will

on Monday, 08 January 2024.

Your Will is the document that guides the distribution of your assets and secures the well-being of your loved ones. However, the importance of your Will doesn’t end with its creation.

Time marches on, circumstances shift, and laws evolve. This article addresses why revisiting and refreshing your Will is a vital step in ensuring your wishes endure the test of time.

1. Your Will may no longer reflect your personal circumstances

Changes are inevitable throughout life and your situation may have altered since you made your Will. For instance, you may have married, divorced, had children (or grandchildren), or bought property in the UK or abroad. Executors, Trustees or Guardians appointed in your existing Will may no longer be appropriate. It is important to consider whether your existing Will represents your present wishes.

2. Your assets or intended beneficiaries may have changed

Details of the assets and beneficiaries in your Will may be out of date. For instance, beneficiaries may no longer be minors and any trust provisions you have in your Will may no longer be appropriate. Intended beneficiaries may have died and, if this is the case, the gift may fall back into your estate and be distributed with the residue. You can avoid this happening by naming an alternative beneficiary in your Will. The composition of your estate may also change, and you may no longer have specific assets that are mentioned in your Will.

3. Your Will may no longer be tax efficient

The provisions in your Will may no longer reflect current tax law. You may have inherited money since making your Will, and this could have a considerable impact upon your estate. In that case, it may be useful to reconsider the distribution of your assets and review any potential tax liability. Keeping up to date with tax law may result in opportunities to make savings. Since 2007, unused inheritance tax nil-rate band allowances can be transferred between estates of married couples and civil partners. As a result, a nil-rate band discretionary trust may no longer be appropriate in your Will. Additionally, the residence nil rate band (first introduced in 2017) means that some estates can now benefit from a further allowance of up to £175,000 (or £350,000 for a married couple).
In addition, where an estate has business or farming assets these can attract tax savings. Business Property or Agricultural Relief may be available, which can provide a reduction in tax of 50% to 100%.

4. Your Will may be at risk of being challenged, or subject to a dispute

You may have remarried (which would automatically revoke your Will) or there may have been changes in your family. These changes might give rise to challenges against your estate and the provisions of your Will. If you have left nothing (or only relatively small gifts) to certain family members or financial dependents, your estate may face a claim in the future. Disputes are both costly and distressing for your Executors and beneficiaries to deal with. To help avoid this, our specialist Contentious Probate team can offer expert advice to minimise the risk of future disputes.

5. Securing your assets for the future

You may wish to ensure that your future needs and those of your dependents are adequately covered. For instance, it may be appropriate for a trust to be set up. You may also wish to undertake planning for care home costs. It may be useful to set up a trust as part of an estate planning exercise. This could be to benefit a surviving spouse or partner, a child, or a disabled relative.

In conclusion, regularly checking and, if necessary, changing your Will isn’t just a chore; it’s your insurance that your wishes will be followed, no matter what life throws your way. It is important to stay on top of this to safeguard your legacy.

Updating your Will may not mean redrafting the entire document. Small updates can easily be made.

Our solicitors are independently recognised as experts in their field and can offer specialist advice, in all the above areas, tailored to your individual needs.

For further information about Wills, please contact Angharad Lynn in our Private Client team on 07500 042 044, or complete the form below.

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