Where There’s A Will

There’s a document that needs to be kept up to date!

As a financial planner, I am used to helping my clients plan for their future – events such as job changes, retirement, education, inheritances, buying a house etc. Time flies for all of us as we know and on a personal level I remember my Son’s first day at school like it was yesterday and here he is this week, viewing universities!

Day to day it does not feel that our family’s circumstances are that different to what they were back then in 2002, but they are. It is always advisable to revisit your Will every now and then to make sure it reflects your current wishes. Sometimes a major event like a death might prompt you to do this, however more often the need for a review will go unnoticed over the passage of time.

In thinking about your circumstances you need to consider whether you have:

  • Remarried – If so any marriage will cancel any existing Will as if you had not made one in the first instance. This is also true with a same sex marriage or civil partnership. If you died after remarrying but before making a new Will, the rules of Intestacy will apply – (i.e. the State will determine how your assets are distributed) and this may not reflect your wishes.
  • Children – This is an obvious trigger to revisit your Will. What will happen to them if both parents died? Who will look after them and how will financial provision be made for them? It might be that a remarriage means you have step children for the first time. This might be in addition to your own children from a first marriage and you need to ask yourself where your priorities are, in terms of distribution of assets on your death.
  • Grandchildren – When Grandchildren appear, you may want to start making provision for them. This can have implications if they are on one side of a family but not the other perhaps where you have more than one Son or Daughter? Imagine if you had two children – one had children of their own (your Grandchildren), while the other did not have children but has just remarried someone who has. All I am saying is, think of your own family’s circumstances and ask yourself the question.
  • Bequeathed Assets – Obviously you may have made specific provision of an asset, so it’s as well to ask yourself if you still own it!

Administrative Issues

You need to make sure that any executors, trustees or beneficiaries are still alive. This can create complications if they are stated in a Will, but have predeceased you.

Deed of Variation – This is where a modification can be made to an existing Will after death sometimes with Inheritance Tax Mitigation in mind. The chancellor has suggested this facility may be abolished in the future. It is therefore even more important to make sure you are happy with the current terms of your Will.

So finally who does this article apply to? Well the reality is only 40% of the UK population have a Will according to The Law Society, however if you are part of the 60% who do not, the chances are there is something in your circumstances and/or your wishes that means a Will should be considered.

Author: Phil James, Grosvenor Consultancy Ltd

There are advantages and disadvantages to using all of these strategies and they depend on individual circumstances so don’t take action without seeking competent advice. Tax rules, rates and allowances are all subject to change. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax advice and some forms of offshore investments. The value of investments and the income from them can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the full amount you invested.

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