Time to look back on the year and review your will

by | Dec 18, 2023

It’s nearly Christmas, and for most of us, that means having time to relax and spend time with our families. It can also give us a chance to reflect on the past year. We can think about what we’ve enjoyed and what we might want to improve next year. If you’ve already made your will, it’s also important to consider what’s changed and whether you need to review it to ensure it still reflects your circumstances. Maybe you’ve taken a leaf out of Santa’s book and added some beneficiaries to the naughty list, or perhaps you have more gifts to share with your loved one.

Here are a few things to think about before reviewing your will.

Have you come into money?

Perhaps it’s been a good year because you’ve come into money from an inheritance, a bonus at work or even a lottery win. Conversely, it may have been a bad year when you struggled financially. All of these can affect your estate planning and what you put in your will, so speak to your will writer if anything has changed.

Has your business life changed?

Your financial situation might also have changed because you’ve started a new business or wound up or sold an existing one. Speaking to your financial adviser or accountant about tax planning is a good idea, but any changes to your business life can impact your will too. If you’ve started a new business, your will can set out what you want to happen when you’re gone.

Are there trusts in your will?

There are different trusts (https://www.westcoteswills.co.uk/why-you-need-to-pay-attention-to-trusts/) that can protect your assets or beneficiaries, mainly if they’re vulnerable or under 18.  An inheritance tax allowance called the residence nil rate band lets you pay less when you leave the family home to your descendants. Previously, many people used a trust to mimic the residence nil rate band. Taking this out means less paperwork for your executors down the line.

Have you had an addition to the family?

A new baby is a beautiful thing. It can also remind you to check your will. If you’ve included a general class such as ‘my children’ or ‘my grandchildren’, the new addition will be included automatically, but if you’ve named specific people, they won’t. If you’ve become estranged from a friend or family member, you might want to remove a specific gift or ensure they don’t inherit. Ensure you get professional advice, particularly if you leave a dependent out of your will.

Have you moved house?

Many of us decide to downsize as we get older, which can mean more cash in your estate than before. When you review your will, your will writer can advise you on whether you need a trust to protect your assets. You might want to ensure your partner can stay in the house or take an income from the money but leave the property or capital to your children.

Are you part of a new family?

If the past year has seen you divorce or form a blended family, reviewing your will is vital. There’s no such thing as a common-law spouse. If you live with your partner but aren’t married, you should think about how you’ll protect them when you’re gone, especially if they’ve moved into your house. Step-children and foster children aren’t automatically included as beneficiaries, so you’ll need to name them if you want to leave them something.

If you want to write your will or review an existing one, we can help. Get in touch using the form below or call us on 0116 380 0752.

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