Research finds Half of UK wills out of date

Research finds Half of UK Wills out of date

Research on behalf of Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) has found that almost half of UK wills are out of date. Adults who have a Will, have not updated it for more than five years.

SFE is a national association of independent lawyers who specialise in legal matters for the elderly and vulnerable. They understand the difficulties that can arise when people do not leave an up to date Will and commissioned the report to assess the extent of the problem.
The report found that 47% of those with Wills had not updated it in the recommended five-year period. Also uncovered were the following:
• Only 44% of those questioned realised that without a Will, the law will decide who inherits their estate
• A mere 33% understood that a couple who are living together but who are not married or in a civil partnership will not inherit each other’s assets
• Just 34% knew that their spouse or civil partner would not automatically inherit their full estate if they did not leave a Will

Will is out of date?

Failing to review your Will regularly involves the risk that your estate may not pass to your loved ones in the way that you wish.
Difficulties may arise in the following situations:
• Executor is no longer able to take on the role
• Named person in the Will, such as an executor, trustee, guardian or beneficiary, has died
• Married since making your Will
• Divorced since making your Will
• Financial circumstances have changed since making your Will
• Beneficiary facing divorce
• Bankrupt beneficiary
• New relationship
• Birth of a child since making your Will

Will is no longer fit for purpose?

An outdated Will makes an estate much harder to administer. Consequently, your loved ones could miss out on the inheritance you would have liked them to have.
Sometimes an executor cannot take on the role, perhaps because they are unwell or have died. Therefore, in this instance, beneficiaries have to work out who is entitled to act in their place. However this poses the risk of a disagreement. People may have differing opinions about who should take on the role of dealing with your estate.
Getting married after making a will, automatically makes it invalid. Your estate becomes intestate and it passes in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy. It should be noted that this does not mean your spouse will automatically inherit everything. Any children you have, may inherit much less under the Rules than you would have liked them to.
Divorcing after making a will, means that anything bequeathed to your former spouse in your Will is no longer left to them. Once again part or all of your estate is intestate and therefore passes under the Rules of Intestacy.
Should a chosen beneficiary faces divorce or bankruptcy, you may want to take steps to protect any assets you choose to leave them. Otherwise, these are liable to be taken in a divorce settlement or pass straight to the trustee in bankruptcy.

Reviewing your Will

Generally it is recommended that a Will is reviewed at least once every five years as well as in the light of any major life changes. These include marriage, the birth of a child, buying a home, divorcing or a change in your financial circumstances.

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