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Keep your will up to date

Thousands of people risk leaving loved ones with nothing after their death because they do not know the contents of their own will.

Research commissioned by the Law Society revealed that 57 per cent of people do not know if their will is up to date.

Changing circumstances are not always reflected in a person’s will, meaning that parts of the deceased’s estate will not be passed onto family and friends, says the Law Society.

Andrew Holroyd, former Law Society President, said: "Circumstances change, but often people will not make the necessary amendments in their will, rendering it out of date.

"The mistake they make is to think of making a will as a one off task, when in fact it should be reviewed with their solicitor regularly.

"People often make a will because they are in a relationship or because they have children, but they then forget about it for many years, during which time their personal situation may have changed.

"Someone who might have intended to leave their home to a family member, friend or charity in their will 10 or 20 years ago may not want or be able to do so now."

The research revealed that of those aged between 25 and 34, 84 per cent did not have an up to date will.

Andrew Holroyd said: "Many people in that age bracket are likely to have bought a home in the last few years. That is a large asset that should be accounted for in the will, the research, however, would suggest this is not being done."

New circumstances mean new will

The research also revealed that 22 per cent of respondents over 65 did not know if they had an up to date will, while worryingly 42 per cent of those widowed, divorced or separated did not know if they had an in-date will.

The Law Society points out that a number of circumstances could require a change being made to an existing will, including:

  • Divorce or separation;
  • Remarrying;
  • Selling of an asset, such as property;
  • Purchasing a large asset, such as a second home;
  • Having children;
  • Debt;
  • Receiving a legacy or other large sum of money or valuable asset;
  • Starting a business.

Contact your solicitor

Andrew Holroyd said: "When circumstances change, you should contact your solicitor to see if you need to review your will.

"When someone is in the process of a major life changing event, such as moving into a new home, or getting married, often the last thing on their mind is their will. However, it should be a high priority. Do not let it gather dust."

If you do not have a will, or need to update your will, you should appoint a qualified solicitor or use a reputable will writing company such as Heritage Will Writers.

Consider putting a digital copy of your will in the Lifebox. However, do not update it in the Lifebox as it will not be valid unless signed in front of a witness.

However, you can put a digital copy of the updated will in the Lifebox so that when your executor opens the Lifebox on your death, he or she will have access to the updated will. 

Also include the name and address of your solicitor who should hold the original copy.

You can also register your will at Certainty.

Consider a reputable will writer

Possibly less expensive than a solicitor is a reputable will writer. However, ensure that any will writer you deal with is qualified. It is best to use a long established company such as Heritage Will Writers.

This company, which has been established for over 25 years, is a member of the Association of Will and Probate Lawyers.

They will also store your will.

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