Does your Will need a New Year health check?

The start of a new year is an excellent time to take stock and put your affairs in order.  One of the most important things you can do for yourself and your loved ones is to make a Will and ensure it is regularly reviewed.

Your personal circumstances and those of your executors, trustees, guardians and beneficiaries will change over time and it is vital that your Will reflects these changes.  It is also vital that your Will takes account of any changes in the law or tax rules governing Wills to ensure your Will remains valid and as tax efficient as possible.

Health check questions

  • Was your Will prepared by a lawyer or by you using a DIY kit?  Although a homemade Will is inevitably cheaper in the short term, there is a real risk that it may not be valid or accurately reflect your wishes
  • Simple errors in the way a Will is prepared can lead to it being invalid.  If your Will is invalid it will result in your estate being dealt with under the rules of intestacy whereby your estate will be distributed in accordance with those rules rather than your wishes
  • Has your marital status changed since you made your Will?  In most cases a Will is invalidated once a marriage has taken place.  It will most likely be necessary for you to make a new Will
  • Are you still happy with any executors or trustees named in your Will?  If you have lost touch with an executor or trustee, or circumstances have changed meaning they are not the most appropriate person to act then it may be necessary to appoint someone else in these important roles
  • Have you had children since you made your Will?  If so, you need to think about appointing a guardian to look after them in case you die before they reach the age of 18.  If you have already appointed a guardian you should think about whether you are still happy with your current choice
  • Have you left any specific gifts in your Will which you have since sold or given away?  If you have, you may like to think about making provision for a replacement gift as the original gift will fail
  • Have you included everyone in your Will who you would like to inherit from your estate?
  • Have you included substitutionary provisions in your Will to cover what should happen if any of your beneficiaries die before you?  If not, you need to do this because it may cause what is called a ‘partial intestacy’ which means that your estate might not pass to who you intend

There may be many different reasons; some not mentioned above, that will warrant a review of your existing Will.  To review the terms of your existing Will, or to make a new Will, please contact us on 01732 770660.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only.  They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.  Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

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