This week is Update Your Will Week (4th–10thMarch), an annual campaign hosted by The Association of Lifetime Lawyers.

It is estimated that almost half of UK adults do not hold a valid Will, setting out their wishes for their Estate when they pass away. Even for those who do have Wills, many believe that there is no need to review the same once in place.

At Ellisons, we encourage clients to look over their Wills intermittently for a number of reasons;

Changes to your wishes

This is perhaps the most obvious reason to review your Will and to consider updating it. Our wishes and feelings can change over time and it may be that the way you felt 20 years ago, is no longer the same today. These changes in feelings and wishes should be reflected within our Wills and it is not enough to simply advise someone that you feel differently.
It should also be stressed that Wills cannot be amended by hand after signing, so noting down your change in wishes on your existing Will does not work and could in fact cause significant issues for your Executors when dealing with your Estate.

Changes in circumstances

Changes in family or personal circumstances may mean that your Will no longer meets your wishes. There may be new children or grandchildren who had not been included previously or a beneficiary in your original Will may have passed away.

Similarly, it may be that you have married or entered into a civil partnership since making your Will, rendering your Will null and void, unless contrary intention were specified at the time. For those who have been divorced since making a Will, this could significantly change the disposition of your Estate, since it will be deemed that your former spouse or civil partner has predeceased you. It is therefore key to ensure that adequate substitute beneficiaries were name in your Will.

Changes to assets forming part of your Estate

Whilst it is usual for your assets to change over time, the value of your Estate and the assets comprising your Estate could have an impact on the inheritance tax allowances available to you. Ensuring that your Will disposes of your Estate in the most efficient way from an inheritance tax perspective is a very important consideration for many. As such, if the assets you own have changed significantly, for example you have purchased a property or set up a business, it is important to review your Will to assess any impact this may have had.

Changes to the Law

The law relating to inheritance tax is always topical, with politicians often indicating changes on the horizon. When changes are implemented, for example the introduction of the residence nil rate band in 2017, it is always sensible to review your Will and seek advice as appropriate. Once again, changes to the law may mean that updates to your Will could benefit your Estate from an inheritance tax perspective. If in doubt, it is always worth seeking professional advice.

If some time has lapsed since your Will was signed, and you would like to discuss updating the same, we at Ellisons are here to help. Please contact one of our Private Client Team to arrange an appointment.