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Insights // 16 May 2024

Why Having an Up-to-Date Will is Important

Partner Caroline Casagranda, in our leading Wills, Probate, Tax & Trusts team, explains why it is important to have an up-to-date Will. 

A Will is a legal document that sets out how you would like your estate to be handled in the event of your death. Making a Will enables you to:

  • Make provision for your wife, husband or partner, your family members and friends
  • Appoint guardians for your children
  • Establish trust funds to look after your children’s and/or grandchildren’s financial future
  • Provide for any specific wishes you may have regarding the bequest of certain items of property or sums of money to friends, relatives or charities
  • Plan the distribution of your estate advantageously for tax purposes
  • State your wishes regarding your funeral arrangements
  • Appoint executors to administer your estate in accordance with the terms of your Will

You do not have to be wealthy to need a Will. Indeed, some of the most complicated issues arise from the smallest of estates. However, your estate could be worth much more than you think.

Updating your Will

You may already have a Will in place but it is essential to keep it up to date, particularly when significant life events occur; for example:

  • if you have any children and/or any arrangements made for them change over time
  • to make provision for any new or existing grandchildren
  •  upon marriage/civil partnership or divorce/dissolution
  • if an executor and/or beneficiary dies in your lifetime
  • if there is a change to your financial position, including when buying or selling property

What If I Don't Have a Will?

If you die without making a Will then your estate will be administered in accordance with the Intestacy Rules.

The Intestacy Rules are a set of strict rules that have been set down by Parliament and dictate how your estate will be administered and distributed. This will often lead to the administration being more complicated and could result in your estate being passed to down to people you do not wish to benefit from your estate. A spouse may not automatically receive your whole of the estate. If your children or parents are still alive, your spouse will receive a proportion, with the remainder going to your children or even, in certain situations, your parents. This can have the most unfortunate and inconvenient consequences for everyone, often causing serious financial problems and family disputes.

Can I Write My Own Will?

You can buy a “Will kit” and write out your own, but this can often prove to be a false economy. It may not save time or money in the end and may well cause serious complications for your family. Any mistakes you make, or important matters you leave out, will only be known after your death, which is, of course, too late.

Many of the mistakes are made when it comes to signing and witnessing the Will, which if done incorrectly invalidates the whole Will. Worse still, a badly drawn Will could result in your estate going to the wrong people, which could cause untold hardship or distress.

The majority of Wills are fairly straightforward and it is therefore not expensive to have one professionally drafted. Even if a complicated Will costs you a little more you can be sure it is a good investment, which buys peace of mind for you and your family.

Our Wills, Probate, Tax & Trusts team, ranked in the top tier in both of the UK's leading guides to law firms, Chambers HNW and The Legal 500, can advise on Wills and estate planning, including on tax and trusts. 

For further information or legal advice, please contact or call 0118 951 6800. 

This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.

Caroline Casagranda

Caroline Casagranda

Partner, Wills, Probate Tax & Trusts

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