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Legal Clinic with Emma Myers

Emma Myers is Head of Wills, Probate and Lifetime Planning for Saga Legal Services. Here she offers some guidance about Wills and the best time to review them.

What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document in which you set out what you would like to happen to your money and possessions after your death. It normally covers bank accounts, investments, your home and your personal possessions as well as setting out your funeral wishes.

A Will makes sorting out your affairs easier and clearer for your family. It also means you make the choices you want about who you leave your money, property and other possessions to.

When should I update my Will? Significant changes that could affect your Will include: Divorce or separation

Divorce does not automatically revoke a Will but any appointment of a former spouse or civil partner as an Executor and any gift to a former spouse or civil partner would not take effect.

Exclusion of the ex-spouse only happens when the divorce is final, so if separation occurs that would be a trigger to review a Will for the period before divorce is finalised.

A Will should certainly be reviewed following a divorce. Marriage

The act of marriage or civil partnership will automatically revoke an existing Will unless the Will has been drafted “in expectation of marriage/civil partnership”.

With an increasing number of people having ‘second families’, it’s very important to get sound legal advice so that you can ensure children from all relationships are protected and treated as you would wish.

Having children or grandchildren

Most people tend to leave their Estate to their children assuming they will pass it on to theirs.

However families reorganise themselves through divorce, re-marriage and other circumstances, so you may want to be very clear about any legacies to grandchildren and how any inheritance would be administered if their parents were to die before them.

Buying or selling a large asset such as a house

Property or income will form part of your Estate as would receiving an inheritance or valuable asset such as a work of art.

The value of your Estate will determine whether your Executors need to apply for Probate and may have implications for tax and trusts.

Buying or selling property abroad may have an impact on your Estate, particularly if the country concerned doesn’t recognise your Will.

It is generally recommended that a professional reviews your Will every few years to ensure it still reflects your wishes and the changing finances and circumstances of family life.

Estate Planning: Emma’s Top 5 Tips

1. Make a Will At the same time, bear in mind two common reasons for problems with Wills – they’re incorrectly signed and witnessed, or simply lost. Always ensure your Will is properly prepared and stored, and that your Executors know where it is.

2. Create a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

People’s circumstances can change dramatically at any age; accident, ill health or any number of things might mean you need someone to take care of your affairs on your behalf. An LPA makes it much easier for the person you choose to look after your finances, health and wellbeing, saving time, stress and money in the long run.

3. Review your Estate

Many people don’t appreciate what their Estate is worth because it’s probably increased in value over the years and they’ve accrued more possessions. That’s not just property but art, antiques, jewels, watches, cars, hobby collections, shares and more. It’s important to have a rough idea of what your Estate’s worth because of the potential Inheritance Tax due on your death. You may decide, with appropriate financial and legal advice, to gift some of your assets during your lifetime, or make other plans to protect the roof over your spouse’s head while still leaving a bequest to other family members.

4. Talk!

People may think it’s morbid or embarrassing, but it’s actually perfectly sensible to discuss your plans and wishes with family and friends. Being clear about what you want will make it a lot easier for them when you’re no longer around!

5. Safe places

After someone’s death, there’s a lot to sort out and a number of people and institutions that need to be informed, including banks, insurance companies, social clubs and other organisations requiring membership. So it makes sense to tell other people where your important documents are kept and who your legal, financial and other advisers are.

For more useful advice, go online at Find out more about Saga’s fixed price legal services, including Probate and Will writing, by calling 0800 656 9916 and stating reference LS0056.

Farewell Magazine 55


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