There’s no getting away from it: 2020 hasn’t been the year we hoped it would be. We’re all counting down the days to Christmas (back-to-back Advent calendars, anyone?) and looking forward to turning the page on a year of unprecedented levels of restriction, uncertainty, fear and disruption – to our lives, our health and our livelihoods.
As COVID-19 has impacted our health, employment, relationships and finances, we have all had to confront difficult questions of what, and who, is truly important to us. So as we look forward to 2021, assuring ourselves that our Wills remain relevant and “fit for purpose” should be high on our New Year’s resolutions lists.
A Will is, after all, a living document, and should change as your life and circumstances change. The Government recommends that each of us should review our Will around every 5 years and consider updating it if a major life event has occurred.
In the ten years I have spent advising client families on their Wills, the most common (and joyful!) event triggering a Will review has been the birth of a child, followed by, less happily, a couple’s decision to divorce (although in all cases so far, they have agreed to share custody of their Will writer…). However, as we move through our lives there are many more events which can, and should, prompt us to check in with our Will writer on the consequences for our Wills.
Looking back through my clients’ experiences inspired me to develop a life journey, featuring the major changes which should be reflected in your Wills: a comprehensive list, covering family, financial, business and health events.
Time to Review
If you have a Will which is more than 5 years old, it is probably time to review all of your estate planning in any event. Changes in your finances and in tax legislation may mean that your Will is not as tax efficient as it could be; updating your arrangements now could save your beneficiaries thousands of pounds in otherwise unnecessary inheritance tax.
But it’s equally important to pay attention to your own feelings – even if nothing external has changed, it’s perfectly possible (and valid) to have had a change of heart, which of itself can be a valid reason to dust off the existing Will and see whether a change in gifting (amounts and/or beneficiaries) or personnel (executors, trustees or guardians) might be due.
New Year’s Resolution
With news of COVID-19 vaccine approvals, deliveries and rollouts, there is a growing sense of optimism for the future, and with it a resolve to make the Twenty-Twenties roar afresh. So why not make a New Year’s resolution that will be easy to keep and schedule a call to ensure that your Will is keeping pace with your life journey?