New year, new Will?

Published by Sarah Mannooch on 3 December 2019

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Key reasons to review your Will…

As the dust settles after the Christmas and New Year celebrations, the start of the New Year is also a good time to reflect on the changes in your life and to plan ahead for the future. So, should this include updating your Will? Here we give key reasons why you might want to book an appointment to do this now.

Additions to the family – Whether you are having a child yourself, or another grandchild, any additions to your close family should trigger a review of your Will to check whether you have included them or not. A new baby might also prompt a review of your choice of legal guardians, to make sure your children will be properly looked after if something happens to you.

Divorce and separation – Christmas may be the happiest time of the year, but family lawyers know it doubles the divorce rate. If you are getting separated or getting divorced, you should think about how your Will is drafted. Financial arrangements on divorce can include inheritance provision so they may need to be included in your Will. Or if it is your child who is getting divorced, you might want to remove any provisions for, or gifts to, their ex.

Marriage – Did you get engaged over Christmas? Remember going forwards that getting married invalidates any previous Wills you may have in place, so it’s important that once the vows are made and the confetti thrown, you should make an appointment with us to discuss your Will.

Business changes – Making changes to your business ahead of Brexit? Holding surplus cash just in case? Changes to your business can affect the reliefs that may be available for Inheritance tax purposes. Review your Will to make sure it correctly makes the best use of any reliefs that may be available.

Lifetime Gifts – You might prefer to pass on an asset during your lifetime rather than via your Will. Almost any asset you own can legally be given away by its transfer to the intended new owner. Cash and possessions can simply be handed over. Gifts of assets like shares or other investments or properties must always involve the signature and registration of legal transfer documents. Remember to take tax advice from a specialist in inheritance tax and capital gains tax before giving away property, business assets or any kind of investment to avoid unwanted tax bills arriving unexpectedly.

Finally, alongside your Will you may also have an Expression of Wishes form to cover all your assets in pensions, life policies, superannuation schemes, death in service benefits and any other trust arrangement and this should also be reviewed with your Will.

You can always change your wishes at any time by completing a new form. Recipients can be persons or entities such as a charity or a trust and you can name multiple beneficiaries to share the funds. It’s always advisable to name primary and secondary beneficiaries and to avoid naming minor children as beneficiaries. Whatever 2020 brings, simply by reviewing your Will you can be sure you have done your best to plan and organise as best you can for the future.

Sarah Mannooch is a Private Client Solicitor. Please contact Sarah here or call us on +44 (0)330 124 1399.

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