It is believed that 50% of people haven’t even written a Will – don’t even start me on the issues of passing away without a Will i.e. intestate.
Others write a Will, store it away and forget about it. A Will should be reviewed every few years.
Why does a Will need to be reviewed?
People overlook the fact that their financial and personal circumstances may have changed over the years. For example:
Marriage – this annuls any previous Will unless written in anticipation of the marriage.
Divorce – the need to review beneficiaries.
Beneficiaries to be amended generally.
The need to change executors.
Tax rates and exemptions may have changed.
Additions to the family – grandchildren for example.
Deletions from the family for example on a child’s divorce etc.
Assets may have increased or diminished.
Protection against care home costs or means assessment of beneficiaries.
How Wills have changed
The Times they are a-changin’ (Bob Dylan). William Shakespeare left only his second best bed to his wife, Anne Hathaway. The rest of his estate was left to his daughter Susanna. Today, this Will could easily be challenged by Anne under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 claiming that William had failed to make reasonable financial provision for her and be able to ask a court for it to award her much more of the estate.
Similarly, Albert Orton’s wife would have been able to challenge his Will when he died in 1888 aged 70 in which he stated that he left only one farthing to his wife because she called him a “rotten old pig” every time he broke wind.
An elderly client of mine was having sleepless nights worrying about the money she received each month from her ex-husband ceasing on his death, which would result in her having insufficient income to live on. She was so relieved to learn that if he had not made appropriate specific provision for her in his Will, she would have a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
Whilst I don’t recommend venting your spleen through the medium of your Will, in 1932, the brother-in-law of Annie Langabeer from Surrey was puzzled to find he’d been left ‘two shillings and sixpence to purchase a length of rope’. The Will then went on to suggest that he could use the rope to hang himself.