It is thought that as many as one in seven people now die without making a Will, and about 50% of people who have made a Will do not know whether it is up to date, because their family circumstances or their wishes may have changed over time, but they have not looked at their Will since they signed it.
You may recall seeing the BBC2 television programme ‘You Can’t Take It with You’ which highlighted the potential problems for people who have not made Wills. If you die without a Will, your estate may not pass in the way you would expect and this may result in a loved one not being provided for, disputes amongst family members, or inheritance tax being paid which could have been avoided.
Seventeen good reasons to review or make your Will;
- You haven’t already got one and you don’t want the Government to decide who gets what
- It hasn’t been updated for more than 3 years and could be outdated
- Your family circumstances have changed e.g. you now have children or grandchildren
- To appoint Guardians for your children
- You have divorced, married or remarried – all of these affect your Will
- You or your partner have stepchildren
- Your financial circumstances have changed e.g. you have inherited property
- You are married to someone from another country
- To reduce Inheritance Tax on your death
- To make your wishes known and legally binding
- To prevent the wrong people getting your estate/money
- To ensure that provision is made in the right proportions to your family members
- As part of a Trust arrangement
- To provide for your pets
- To decide who will be in charge of your estate (your Executors)
- To make donations/legacies/gifts to charities/organisations or people
- To prevent challenges to your estate from family members or others
Families are not as straightforward as they once were; couples with children from previous marriages or relationships, unmarried couples who have children or a property together and people who have no immediate family or who do not wish to benefit their relatives should all carefully consider how they would want their estates to pass on their deaths. By making a Will, you are clearly setting out your wishes about who should deal with your estate and how it should be distributed. You can also appoint guardians in a Will to look after children and make legacies to charities and other organisations that are important to you. These types of wishes may not be carried if you do not set them out in a Will.
Marriage automatically revokes a Will, so if you have married since making a Will, you will need to make a new one, even if you intend to leave your estate to the same people.
Similarly, if you have been divorced since making a Will, you should review your Will and amend it if necessary, for example replacing a former spouse as an Executor or beneficiary of your Will.
The way you hold your house or flat could cause it to pass contrary to the terms of your Will. Jane Whitfield has written a short guide explaining the different ways you can hold property to help you decide which is the best way for you.
Many people put off making a Will either because they do not think they need to make one yet or because they simply cannot decide what to do for the best. Often making a Will is something they have been planning to do for a long time and just have not done anything about yet.
Making a Will does not have to be complicated or expensive. Our team can discuss with you the different types of Wills which may be appropriate for your family situation and make suggestions for ways to achieve a solution as smoothly as possible.
For further information please contact the Private Client team by telephone on 0118 958 9711 or email [email protected] to arrange an appointment for you to meet with one of our solicitors at our offices in Queens Road, Reading, Berkshire. Please let us know if Reading is not convenient for you as we can also arrange client appointments at your home where required.