You often hear the question ‘Have you made a Will?’ and whilst the majority of people answer No some can answer with a smug Yes. If they were then asked the questions ‘Where is your original Will?’ and ‘When was the last time you checked it was up to date?’ then very few can answer with the same authority.
Taking the time and trouble to make your Will is the best way to protect the interests of your family and loved ones and help them deal with your affairs when you are no longer here.
Unfortunately a high percentage of people who make a Will simply forget where the original is and in some cases what it actually contains.
Usually when a Will is signed and finalised it is kept by the Solicitors who drafted it in their storage facility. Since the recession a lot of legal firms have merged and in some cases have ceased to exist. This means that your Will may now be stored out of the locality by a firm you do not know and your family may have a job on their hands finding the original Will when you pass. What should be a simple procedure can become protracted and the last thing your family need at this difficult time in their lives.
Storing your Will at home can seem like a good idea but would your family or loved ones know where that safe place is you have placed it in? If the Will is not found then it will be assumed you have not made one and your estate will be dealt with in line with the intestacy rules and family who you do not wish to inherit may well do so. Your original Will is required by the Probate Registry a copy will not suffice.
Once you have made your Will it is important to review it regularly as having an out of date Will can be as dangerous as having no Will at all.
You should consider updating your Will if the following should happen:-
- You become separated or divorced – If you are separated but not divorced then if you die before your divorce is finalised your spouse will still be entitled to any gifts left to them in your Will – you can change your Will to deal with this.
- You remarry – Marriage invalidates a previous Will so this can cause issues for any children from a previous marriage who may not now inherit. This is a common problem that can cause a lot of stress and upset for families and by writing your Will correctly can avoid any conflict.
- You have had children since the last Will was prepared and you need to now appoint Testamentary Guardians for them and to leave them a share of your Estate
- You have had grandchildren that you may wish to leave a gift to.
- You have left a gift to someone who has now died or you have not kept in touch with and now need to change your Will to reflect this.
- Your circumstances and priorities may have changed since making your last Will and matters such as care home fees, appointing trustees and guardians may need advising and addressing.
- You may have lost touch with people who you have appointed as Executors or in the case of appointing solicitors as Executors do the solicitors still practice as again this can cause problems in the administration of your Estate.
- Have you appointed your bank as Executors? If so do you know what they charge for doing this as most charge a percentage of the value of the estate?
It is important that your loved ones are aware where the original Will is stored and ideally keep a copy with the details of it’s location with your other important documents like birth certificates, insurance policies etc.
Once a new Will is made it is important to locate any previous Wills to avoid any confusion on your death. You would not want your out of date wishes to be carried out in error.
How can Forster Dean help?
- We can help you trace the original Will if it is stored with solicitors who have merged or moved out of the area. Our local knowledge from our 28 offices is key in assisting you in this.
- Once the Will is traced we can go through this with you to ensure it is up to date and reflects your current wishes.
- If up to date we can arrange to store this for you free of charge.
- If it needs to be updated we can deal with this on your behalf simply and at a competitive price.
- We can provide advice and assistance in relation to other matters you may be concerned about such as Lasting Powers of Attorney.
- Let us take the worry away from you and your loved ones
Please contact Su Wilson on 0800 389 1978 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or pop into one of our offices for more information.