Complexity of modern family relationships spurs revisions to wills. 44% of over 50s have changed their will up to four times according to a YouGov survey, commissioned by law firm Winckworth Sherwood.
Lawyers at the firm typically see people changing their will because their life circumstances have altered, for example, the arrival of children, the death of a parent or divorce.
Tim Snaith, partner at Winckworth Sherwood, says: “There’s a long-standing taboo around the subject of death, and many prefer to ignore the subject entirely. What this shows is that of those who have grasped the nettle, and begun to plan for that inevitable day, are also keeping an eye on the arrangements that they have put in place.”
The survey found that a quarter (26%) of over 50s don’t have a will at all, leaving their assets to pass under the intestacy rules. In many instances, this can lead to claims and, at worst, assets being left to the State.
Tim adds: “There is no one size fits all solution to a will, and if you have one, it is really important to review it from time to time to make sure it still reflects your wishes. Just as many problems can arise from an out of date will as can occur without a will at all.”
As personal lives and family relationships become more complex with divorces and remarriages, contested wills are also on the increase according to the Ministry of Justice1. Information on wills and contesting them is also more accessible than ever before. Online access means that more people are likely to question the contents of a will and high-profile will contests are ensuring it’s likely to happen more often.
Tim advises: “Preparing a will is the first step. The next it to keep it under review. Wills are, however, the tip of the iceberg. Death creates all sorts of issues; for example, at a practical level, assets are frozen and direct debits are stopped, which in the immediate period after death can create significant problems for loved ones. Death is never going to be a happy subject but the more planning done around it, generally the risk of issues for those left behind is reduced.”