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Ten reasons to update your will

Your executors 

One of the most important provisions in your will is the clause in which you appoint your executors and your trustees. In the executorship clause, you decide on the people that you trust to look after your financial affairs after your death. These are the people who make decisions about your estate and look after your money and collect it in. In the event that there is to be a continuing trust after your death, then you need to ensure that the right people are appointed to make the appropriate decisions. This will allow the trust to be run smoothly for the benefit of the beneficiaries of your will, such as your children or grandchildren. This is a very important decision. Since your last will, it may be that there is a need to change your executors. It could be the case that one or more of your executors have passed away or are incapable of acting in the role of an executor and trustee. It may be that your will was made when your children were much younger, yet they are now of such an age of maturity that they are able to act as your executors and or trustees. 

Guardianship provision

This is another very important clause in your will. Determining who will have care of your children on your death is a very serious matter. It is important to ensure that you update who you have appointed as guardians of any minor children. It may be the people you have previously appointed are no longer able or maybe unwilling now to act in that role. 

Pecuniary legacies 

You may have made various gifts of money in your will. Some of the beneficiaries may have died or you may have lost contact with them. It may be that you have met people since you made your previous will and they have been particularly helpful, so you may wish to reward them on your death. You may have met new friends that you wish to benefit and you may wish to change your will to include those friends. You may have now decided that you want to make charitable gifts in your will, with many people making provision in their will for the charities they particularly care for. 

Specific gifts

It may be that you have made specific gifts of jewellery or items of property to people in your will and you may no longer hold those items. The property may have been sold. You may have acquired significant other possessions which you may wish to leave in your will to certain friends or family members. It could be the case that you left a particular item to someone in your will and that person has now died, meaning that you want to make provision for someone else to receive that property in your new will. It may be that you have left a provision for a life interest trust in your will, and have specified a particular property which you are no longer living in. You may wish to alter your will to include the new property as part of the life interest trust. 

New family members

It may be that since your previous will, new members of the family are born, such as children or grandchildren, and you may wish to make proper provision for them. 

Changes in your marital status

It may be that since you made your previous will, you have married or re-married. In such circumstances, it is important to remember that marriage or re-marriage revokes your previous will, and if you have not made a new will, then the intestacy rules will apply which may not be what you want. If there are no children, under the intestacy rules, everything will go to your surviving spouse. If there are children or grandchildren, then under the intestacy rules, your spouse receives all your personal possessions, a statutory legacy of £270,000 and half the remainder of your estate. 

Changes to your own financial position

It may be that since your previous will, your financial circumstances have improved considerable or possibly got worse. Therefore, you may want to rethink who your beneficiaries should be and how much each should receive in light of this. 

Changes in priorities 

It may be that since your last will, your priorities have changed when it comes to making a will. It may be that you are now considering the impact of care home fees should you move into a care home. You may decide that you now wish to organise your affairs in such a way that would reduce the impact of care home fees. One way of doing this would potentially be to sever the joint tenancy in a jointly owned property and leave a half interest in the property on a life interest trust to your children. This would be instead of leaving everything in your will to your surviving spouse. 

Reducing the effect of inheritance tax

It may be that your previous will wasn’t tax efficient, and a new will could be made to ensure that on your death your affairs are dealt with in the most tax efficient way. It may be that your will needs to be amended to take into account changes in tax legislation, for instance, to ensure that the residence nil rate band is not lost. 

Changes in the financial position of your beneficiaries

Since your last will, there may be changes in the financial position of your beneficiaries, which could mean it is important to change your will. For instance, it could be that one of your relatives, who you intend to leave money, is bankrupt. You may now not want the money to be left to them as it will just end up going to the official receiver in bankruptcy. It could be that you know that one of your children is going through a divorce and if you died, an inheritance could be taken into account in their financial settlement. This is something you may not want to happen. It may be that since your previous will was made, one or more of your children have become particularly needy of the money and you may want to make an additional provision for them in your will.

It is very important to review your will on a regular basis. To ensure that your wishes are put into effect properly, you should consult a solicitor who specialises in wills. 

To speak with a specialist solicitor, email howardC@winstonsolicitors.co.uk or call Winston Solicitors on 0113 320 5000.

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