When Should I Review my Will?
Posted on January 23rd 2023
The 23rd – 29th January 2023 is national ‘Review your Will Week’ launched by the Solicitors for the Elderly (‘SFE’), an organisation committed to providing an excellent service to all clients, particularly elderly people. At Oliver & Co Solicitors, we are proud to take part in national ‘Review your Will Week’ , recognising the importance of reviewing your Will when the time is right. In this article Danielle Chandler, Trainee Solicitor in our Wills & Probate department, looks at some of the reasons why you may want to review your Will.
When is the right time to review my Will?
There are many life events that may trigger a review of your Will. For example, if you have:
- Got married or divorced
- Expanded your family
- Received inheritance
- Purchased a property
If you are due to marry or you have recently married, then any existing will that you may have made will be automatically cancelled by that marriage. This means that you will need to make a new Will. If you do not make a Will, then your Estate will pass under the intestacy rules, and this means that your spouse may not receive as much as you would have liked them to have received had you made a Will, or they may receive more from your Estate than you intended. Under the current rules of intestacy your spouse would receive at least a £270,000.00 statutory legacy, if your Estate is worth that amount. It is important to appreciate that this may not be in accordance with your wishes, particularly if you have children from a previous relationship who you would like to benefit from your Estate.
If you are a blended family and you both have children from previous relationships, then it is important to have a Will in place. The concern is that on the death of the first of you, the survivor of you could go on to remarry and they could essentially change their will to disinherit your children and choose instead to leave everything to the new partner. It is possible to include a type of Trust in your Will known as a life interest Trust. The Trust can apply over your property or over cash assets. You would essentially grant the survivor of you a right to live in your property on your death, but ultimately your share of the property would pass down to your children either on the death of the surviving partner or earlier if you would wish it, for example, if they were to remarry. It is a means of ensuring that the survivor of you can continue to remain living in the property, whilst safeguarding an inheritance for your children.
If you have recently divorced, then it is important to review your Will and any pension nomination forms to state who you would like to benefit from your Estate and your pensions. It is worth knowing that a divorced spouse is treated as having died before you, which means that they will not inherit if they are mentioned in your existing Will on your death.
If you have recently had a child, then it is important to review your Will. In your Will you can express any wishes with regards to who you would like to act as the guardians of your children and the manner in which you would like your children to be brought up in the event that you sadly die before your children turn 18. Such wishes may include a preference for them to attend a particular school or to continue with a specific hobby.
It may also be desirable to state a specific age that you would like your children to receive their inheritance and who you would like to look after any inheritance for them before they reach the desired age. The people responsible for looking after the inheritance due to your children are known as ‘Trustees,’ and they would be able to make payments out to your children for education, maintenance and financial hardship. It is only when your child attains the desired age that they will be entitled to the monies held in the Trust Account outright.
If you have recently received an inheritance, then it is sensible to review your existing Will from an inheritance tax point of view. At the time of writing each individual has an allowance of £325,000.00 which would pass free from inheritance tax in the first instance (a nil rate band allowance). Inheritance tax is taxed at 40%. It is important to note that any gifts to charity in your Will would have the effect of reducing your Estate from an inheritance tax point of view, as well as benefitting a particular charity that may be close to your heart. Gifts in a Will to a charity are free from inheritance tax, and if you choose to leave up to 10% of your Estate to a charity then this would have the effect of reducing any inheritance tax down from 40% to 36%.
Purchasing a property
If you are a homeowner, then it is important to have a review of your Will to ensure that it reflects how you would like any property that you own to be treated on your death. If you own a property as ‘joint tenants,’ then your share of the property would automatically pass to any surviving joint owners regardless of what your will states. Alternatively, if you own a property as ‘tenants in common,’ then your share of the property would not automatically pass to any surviving owners of the property, and it would pass in accordance with the wishes stated in your Will.
It is important to review your Will even if you are a sole owner of a property, particularly if you have anyone else who is living with you at the property and who you would wish to remain living in the property after your death. If you do not have a Will in place, then this would mean that any occupiers of your property may be asked to move out of the property on your death, leaving them with nowhere to live. In your Will it is possible to grant any occupiers the right to continue living in your property for a set period of time.
If you would like any assistance in reviewing your Will then please contact Oliver & Co Solicitors on 01244 312 306 to speak to one of our dedicated team members, committed to providing an excellent client service.
Call and speak to a member of our team on 01244 312306