23 July 2018

Why you should review your will every year

No-one wants more paperwork, especially in the summer, but one piece of paper should get your full attention – your will. David King,Partner in our Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning team in the Wye Valley, explains why you should review it every year.

When did you last update your will? Have you even made one? More than half of all adults have no will, and many people imagine that their property and assets will automatically go to their husband or wife, or possibly their children.

But that isn’t so, and if you haven’t made a will, you have no say over who gets what – if you want to make sure the people YOU choose are the ones to benefit, you need to make a will and keep it up to date, especially if your farm or land is a family asset.

Major legal changes in the last ten years have an impact on assets and property bequeathed in wills, and since it can take as little as half an hour a year to check that your will still meets your needs, it’s an investment worth making.

The basic formalities of making a will may not have changed for more than 180 years, but major financial legislation since 2008 means that new tax rules can have a considerable effect upon how you dispose of your assets in your will. For farming families, there are often added complexities, but also a variety of ways to ensure that you make the most of the tax system.

Changes have been brought in by both the Finance Act 2008 and the Residence Nil Rate Band in April 2017, so a review of your will would be timely.

I have always wondered why people don’t treat their lawyer more like their accountant, and review their legal position annually.

Perhaps it’s because solicitors are felt to be a necessary evil, rather than a real necessity. Clients treat their solicitor as a reactive service, as opposed to a proactive service, a mind-set that I am very keen to change. You don’t wait for your car to break down before taking it for a service, so why would you run the risk of paying more tax when you can get your estate planning serviced annually in the same way?

Once you have found a private client solicitor that you trust to advise you in connection with your affairs, why not take half an hour a year to review the content of your will and to discuss your current personal circumstances? This will ensure that your will and estate planning measures are up to date.

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David King, Partner
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