Under the laws of England and Wales, broadly speaking, we all have testamentary freedom to dispose of our personal assets as we wish. We should all have a Will setting out what should happen to our assets when we die.
If we don’t leave a valid Will behind, the law sets out who gets what and this rarely provides for assets to pass as an individual would have wanted.
It is estimated that as many as 60 per cent of UK adults do not have a Will, including a third of over 55s (although official statistics are not available to confirm this).
In addition, in the past, studies have found that many of those UK adults with a Will fail to update it following major life changes.
Once an individual has executed a Will, a not un-common perception is that the job is 'done'; the Will is there ready and waiting for when its needed.
In reality, a Will can become out of date for various reasons, including changes in:
- tax law, and there have been numerous significant changes to inheritance tax on death in recent years and more might be expected following the Office for Tax Simplification’s inheritance tax consultation earlier this year; or
- family circumstances.
What circumstances should prompt you to revisit your Will?
- You get married or enter into a civil partnership. This revokes any previous will.
- You move home.
- You have or adopt a child.
- A family member or beneficiary dies.
- You get divorced.
- An appointed executor, or guardian of a minor child, dies.
- There is a substantial change in the value of your estate.
- You start to co-habit with someone.
How can RSM help?
The accepted recommendation is that an individual should review their Will regularly, for example every 5 years or so.