Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) accredited solicitor, Sarah Loveless, recommends reviewing your Will ahead of “Update Your Will Week”. Sarah is available on 01225 755656, or by email. Alternatively, you can complete the Contact Form at the foot of this page.
Research commissioned by Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) has revealed that almost half (48%) of people living in England and Wales who have a Will have not updated it for more than five years, meaning nearly half of Wills are likely to be out-of-date. Of those, almost a third (33%) have not updated it for over 7 years, and over a fifth (21%) have not dusted it off in more than a decade.
Having an up-to-date and well-drafted Will is crucial in ensuring your wishes are carried out in the way you would like when you die.
This year, SFE, a membership body representing over 1,600 solicitors specialising in working with older and vulnerable people, has launched “Update Your Will Week” (28th March – 3rd April) in a bid to raise awareness of the importance of updating your Will regularly.
As a specialist Wills solicitor and accredited SFE member, I recommend that a Will be reviewed and updated every five years, or when a major change in your life occurs that impacts you or your loved ones, such as divorce, marriage, a new birth or even a death in the family. SFE’s research has revealed that almost a third (33%) of people with a Will have had significant changes to their lives and circumstances since they drafted it.
An unchecked and outdated Will could have severe implications for your loved ones after death – including missed inheritances and a higher Inheritance Tax bill. Many people assume that once you have drafted a Will, you never have to review it and that your wishes will be carried out as you wish them to be posthumously – but unfortunately, that is far from true.
For example, if you marry, your Will is automatically revoked. Or if you marry into a family and have stepchildren that you would like to inherit your assets – this will not happen automatically unless you stipulate it in a new Will. All these details are crucial to avoid family disputes – which we know can be very distressing for your loved ones.
In fact, SFE’s research revealed that:
- Only 16% of people realise that remarrying invalidates a Will.
- Less than a third (31%) of people realise stepchildren will not be included in your Will unless you stipulate that separately.
- 17% of people wrongly think you can update your Will by making changes on the original document and initialling them.
The findings have also revealed that 53% of people do not have a Will at all – a worryingly high figure. One in ten British families (11%) have been caught out by a ‘bad Will’ – a Will that is out of date or poorly drafted – for example missing out on an inheritance or their childhood home being sold without their knowledge.
Of course, it’s great to see that many people have made a Will – but we need to see a much higher Will uptake, and for those that have a Will in place, it’s paramount that they keep it under regular review. I would strongly recommend that people look for their local SFE accredited solicitor.