With the new tax year just around the corner it's time to think about what you may wish to achieve with your finances and estate in the coming year and to undertake a review to ascertain the best way to achieve your goals.
This may involve a meeting with your accountant or financial adviser but should also include a discussion with your lawyer to ensure your Will remains current in light of any changes in the family or asset base in the last year, or to get a Will put in place.
I don't already have a Will, what should I consider ahead of a meeting?
When considering drawing up a Will there are some key things to be considered ahead of arranging an appointment to discuss matters more fully:
- Who you would like your executors and trustees to be. Your executors deal with the estate administration and are responsible for collecting in details of all assets and liabilities at the date of your death, preparing the inheritance tax return, applying for the grant of probate (if required), collecting in the assets and payment of liabilities and distributing the estate in accordance with the Will. Their role is therefore finite, whereas the trustees' role may continue if there are ongoing trusts incorporated in the Will, which may be the case if a layer of protection or flexibility is desired.
- Whether you would like to leave any specific gifts of either items or money.
- Where you would like the estate to pass. You should consider where it should pass on the first death, second death and in the unlikely event that all of these individuals have passed away – this may be to a charity, other family members or friends.
- Whether you would like any funeral wishes incorporated into your Will. It is important to note that funeral wishes in Wills are not binding on your executors and trustees.
I already have a Will, what should I consider when reviewing it?
In the event you already have a Will in place it is a good idea to review this on a regular basis. This may, for some, simply mean considering it to ensure you are content with its terms or, for others, doing this and determining amendments are required. In particular you should consider:
- Has your estate changed significantly since your Will was last reviewed by a solicitor or have you acquired any business or agricultural assets? If so, it may be sensible to review things with us as the inheritance tax regime that applies to your estate may have changed since the Will was drawn and there may be tax benefits of making amendments to the Will at this stage.
- Has anybody died or lost capacity since the Will was prepared? If so, then they may no longer be able to act in their role as executor, trustee or guardian and you may wish to amend these roles.
- Have there been any additions to the family? If so, the Will may need updating to take them into account.
- Does the Will still carry out your wishes in relation to specific gifts of items or money?
- Does the Will still achieve your wishes in terms of where the residue of your estate passes?
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.