Everybody should have a Will, irrespective of age or financial position, as without a Will you are leaving it up to the law to decide what happens to your money, property and possessions when you die.
Although set out on paper in black and white, circumstances change and therefore you should review your Will regularly and update it following any major life changes. If you haven’t updated your Will in the past 5 years ask yourself the following:
· Are you married / remarried / divorced / in the same relationship that you were when your Will was first prepared? If you are separated, your ex-partner can still inherit from your Will when you die if you haven’t updated your Will or created a new one.
· Are you in a serious relationship and cohabiting? Even if you have been living with your long term partner for most of your lifetime, they are not automatically entitled to anything when you die, unless specifically stated in your Will. Although you may be able to make a claim against the estate, there are strict requirements for what will be an expensive Court action.
· Do you have any more children / grandchildren? Remember to think about your current situation and name any non-biological children in your Will too if you want them to benefit.
· Have any of your Executors passed away? Unexpected illnesses or death may render your Will inappropriate or invalid so make sure your named Executors are still suitable.
· Have there been any changes to Inheritance Tax or other laws since your Will was drafted? Make sure your Will is up to date and takes account of any changes in legislation, and that your assets are managed appropriately so that your family benefit.
· If a beneficiary or someone named in your Will dies before you, you may want to review your Will and your plans.
· Have you moved house or bought / sold any additional property since your last review?
· Has there been a significant change to your financial position? This could have an impact on the legacies or gifts you have left in your Will, as well as your Inheritance Tax position.
· Do you have your own business? As well as succession planning, you will want to think about how your business position reflects on family after you are no longer here.
Even if you have not undergone any major changes in your personal or business life, you should review your Will regularly to check that it still reflects your wishes and also to ensure that it has not been affected by any changes in the law or tax benefits that you may be able to take advantage of.