Legally Speaking - Part 8
Posted on 15 January 2018 by Catherine Murton
The New Year is one of my favourite times of the whole year. When we reach the shortest day on 21st December I start to think about the longer evenings and, by the end of this month, I may even get to go home in daylight!
It is also the time when we make (and, in my case, break) our New Year’s resolutions. I have given up on the usual ‘lose a stone’ and ‘clear out the loft’ sort of resolutions. There is rarely a time when clearing out the loft will win over for a good use of my time and, basically, I like my food too much to stick to any kind of healthy eating plan for long enough to lose a stone!
So this year I have been a bit more realistic and just promised myself not to keep putting things off until tomorrow. I intend to do things like dealing with my post at home as soon as it arrives. It always feels a bit like a busman’s holiday so it does have a tendency to pile up! However, the resolution applies to the good things as well as the less appealing. When I am busy I often put off meeting up with friends, or delay visits to places that I really want to experience. I am going to make a big effort to say yes more often and to book to do the things that I want to. It is hard to do my job without realising that there may be no tomorrow so this seems like an apt resolution.
Clients often ask how often they should review their wills and this obviously varies considerably between individuals depending on their circumstances. Our general advice is that it is worth having a will professionally checked over every three years or so. We offer this as a free service either in one of our offices or at our legal clinics. Even if your own circumstances have remained the same it may be that there has been a change in the law that means your will could be more tax efficient or simply more administratively simple.
I think we can all agree that what you could buy for five pounds five years ago is significantly less than what you can get today. No-one told my grandmother this as all of her grandchildren received five pounds every Christmas and birthday for over twenty years! Like all gifts, legacies in wills can also become out of date quite quickly and so checking your will regularly ensures that legacies can be amended to reflect inflation.
Many people do not realise that legacies get paid before the remainder of the estate is distributed. Therefore, if you have left legacies to, say, your grandchildren and the rest of the estate to your children and your assets reduce significantly subsequent to you making the will, perhaps because of residential care home fees (or hopefully just because you have had a great time spending your money), then the outcome could be that your grandchildren end up receiving more from your estate than your children.
Once made wills often get completely forgotten about but they do not become null and void after a period of time and even an out of date thirty year old will is valid in most circumstances if a later will has not been executed revoking it. If you have already failed on the usual New Year resolutions then make reviewing your will a resolution you keep!
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