We go through life accepting that things change; seasons change, jobs change, people change.
That means that although you may have planned your legal affairs once before, you should revisit your plans because they may have changed too.
I have met clients that have made their wills 20 or 30 years ago, and they cannot remember what they wanted at that time and that is if they can recall where their original documents are held! Upon review of your will, you may find that you have sold items or changed bank accounts that have been stated in the will or you may sadly have lost a loved one that is mentioned.
You must also remember that the law changes too, and over the last few years both trusts and tax legislation have changed substantially and so what was best for your circumstances a few years ago may not be the best for you now.
The implementation of the transferable nil rate band, allowing a surviving spouse to utilise a proportion of the remaining tax free allowance of the first spouse has allowed many clients to remove complex trusts from their wills, simplifying their wishes for their family.
Another change to tax legislation falls in the area of gifts where you have retained a benefit. You may have given away your house or transferred it into the names of your children, but continued to live in it. Alternatively you may have made a substantial gift of cash to a family member and then moved in with them or enjoyed the benefit of some other asset that they used the cash for. If any of these situations strike a familiar chord, then you should take advice because due to changes in the law this may well have an impact on the taxation of your estate.
Tips to ensure that your affairs are as up to date as possible include carefully considering whether your will still reflects what you want. If it does not, then you should consider changing it. Under no circumstances however should the original be amended by hand after the date you signed it. You should take advice from a solicitor in relation to making amendments and the most appropriate way to do so.
If, upon your demise, your will does not reflect your wishes at that time, then regardless of whether your family know what it is you would have really wanted there is no legal way for them to deviate from the terms of your will or to exclude persons with whom you have fallen out or to include loved ones you have missed out.
In some limited circumstances beneficiaries can agree to give up their benefit under a will and to share or give up their legacy in favour of others but it is not often that such persons are willing to give up something valuable.
If you can accept that things do change in life, then look at your own circumstances every once in a while and ask yourself what has changed? Have you had children or been married, have you had a disagreement with an old friend or been through a relationship breakdown? If so, then it is time to review your will and other legal affairs. Remember, a change can be for the better!
AMD Solicitors offer a free 30-minute initial appointment during which your circumstances can be reviewed and any existing documents can be considered in order to advise you of any changes that may be appropriate.
Contact Claire or one of the other members of our wills probate and trust team on 0117 989 8513 or email email@example.com
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