Here’s your checklist to follow when reviewing a client’s Will.
A birth in the family.
For example, a child or grandchild. Parents can also use their Wills to appoint legal guardians for their children and choose at what age the children should inherit.
Marriage automatically revokes a Will unless an expectation to marry is noted within the current Will. This is particularly important if the client has children from a previous relationship.
Divorcing or have separated from a partner.
A client may want to update their Will to reduce the risk of a previous partner inheriting any of their estate.
Recently received an inheritance.
An increase in the size of an estate may change a client’s wishes on who they want to inherit. They may also now face an inheritance tax liability and want to take advice on options to mitigate this.
Wish to change the individuals named as executors and trustees.
The client may no longer be in contact with the people previously appointed or they may have predeceased the client.
Wish to change who has been named as legal guardians for their children.
If the client has minor children, the needs of the children and what they require in a legal guardian after the death of a parent will change as they grow. The client may now also wish to appoint different people to manage their children’s potential future inheritance as ‘trustees’.
If any of the beneficiaries, executors or trustees have lost mental capacity.
It is best to update the appointments of executors and trustees if mental capacity is lost. Similarly, with an incapacitated beneficiary, a Will can be updated to incorporate provisions to protect and manage inheritance for the long term i.e. it may be wise to consider a disabled discretionary trust in certain circumstances.
If any of the beneficiaries or executors have died.
It is important to check that a Will contains default provisions to provide for the death of an executor or beneficiary.
The children have reached the age of 18.
For example, they can now name them as executors or replacement executors should the client wish.
Wish to change the amounts of any of the gifts in a Will or the gift recipient.
The circumstances or a relationship with individuals may have changed and a Will should reflect this.
Wish to remove gifts entirely or add new gifts.
For example, you might want to add a new charity gift after a diagnosis or remove a gift to someone you are no longer close to.
The client now owns business assets that may qualify for inheritance tax relief.
The structure of a Will is important to maximise the inheritance tax savings to an estate and consideration should be given to ensure this type of assets can be appropriately managed after a death.
Have purchased property abroad.
If the client now owns foreign property, they will need to ensure that their Will reflects this and consider if they need to make an additional Will in the country the property is situated in.
The value of an estate has substantially increased or decreased.
Changes in the value of an estate will affect the amount loved ones will receive and as a result may change the wishes of a client.
To check if an estate will benefit from or be adversely affected by any changes in the law or tax legislation.
For example, entitlement to the Residence Nil Rate Band for inheritance tax has a number of conditions attached to it that and a Will may impact on any entitlement to this tax free allowance.
Our checklist does not cover all the circumstances in which a client should update their Will. It is merely indicative of the types of event that should prompt a review.
For further information just call 01522 500823 or email [email protected]
The information provided is guidance only and does not constitute as legal advice.