Make time for your Will
Making a Will is something we all know we ought to have done but still manage to put off. It’s never too early or too late to make a Will, as Lindsay Taylor explains.
A Will at its most basic is a legal document that sets out what happens to your estate when you die. Given that preparing a Will requires us to consider our own mortality it is perhaps no surprise that many of us put it off. But that is a mistake and could leave your loved ones at a loose end should the worst happen.
So when should you first look to create a Will, and how often should they be reviewed?
There is no hard and fast rule and I have created Wills for 99-year olds, 18-year olds and many in between. But as a general guide, I would recommend that whenever your personal situation changes, then you need to review your Will.
For those in their 20s or 30s, the time to create a first Will is usually when buying a first home. This is important if the bank of mum and dad have helped fund that purchase alongside a traditional mortgage, as should the unthinkable happen it will ensure their money is returned first.
The next milestone will usually be the arrival of children, with a Will often making specific reference to the appointment of guardians, typically grandparents, to care for children in the event of death.
It is important to keep the appointment of guardians under review. Whilst it might be appropriate for young tots to live with their grandparents, older teenage children living with older grandparents may not always work.
A divorce should always trigger a review of a Will, even more so if a second marriage and children are on the horizon. Family lives are increasingly complex, and an experienced solicitor is well-placed to help create a Will that ensures your wishes are respected whilst avoiding costly and acrimonious future disputes.
Entrepreneurs need to carefully consider their own Wills to ensure that the wealth generated is properly managed but also to allow executors to appoint someone to continue running the business if required. As a business grows or if a business is sold that too should trigger a review.
Those approaching middle age or retirement should not forget their Will. It may be appropriate to reconsider executors, perhaps appointing children rather than a spouse to take on the role. Special provision for grandchildren may need to be made.
It is not always necessary to update an entire Will when leaving specific items to family members. The rules allow a separate list to be created and regularly updated and simply emailed or posted to your solicitor who will then store it with your Will. They will often offer this service at no extra charge.
And finally, in older age, there will be the need to again check and update a Will perhaps following the death of a partner, to reflect health needs, consider inheritance tax, or simply to leave small gifts to friends, charities or community groups.
A Will is a living and dynamic document. It needs to reflect the personal position of an individual or married couple and their family. As that personal position changes so too should a Will.