How often should I review my will?
October 27, 2021
Sadly, some families have difficult relationships, and you may have decided to leave a child out of your will. This might be because they are well off and you have other children (or grandchildren) in greater need. While pre-pandemic, you might have made adequate provision for a dependent, their situation may have changed dramatically due to lockdown – have they lost their job or their business so that they are now in greater need of provision from your estate?
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975, allows certain family and dependents to bring claims against your estate when you die if your will fails to make reasonable provision for them. It is impossible to make your will watertight against such claims arising after you die. If you leave out one child because you haven’t seen them in years, or you are estranged for other reasons, they could make a claim and the Courts would have to decide whether what you left was adequate and, if not, how much they should receive.
In such circumstances, you can leave a small bequest and place a letter with your will explaining why you have not given them the same share as your other children, so that the Court understands your reasoning and can take it into account. You can also include a clause to the effect that they will receive nothing at all if they make a claim – if they are unsure of success at Court this may put them off claiming at all.
The real problem is that, under the Act, the Court must consider their circumstances (and those of the other beneficiaries) at the date of the trial, not the date you made your will or even when you died. What may have seemed like a reasonable, though modest, sum when you made your will may no longer be considered “reasonable financial provision” for a child who (at the date of trial) is destitute having lost their livelihood and their assets during the pandemic.
You may have left less to one child than your other children because they were wealthier at the time that you made your will, but is that still the case?
If any of this applies to you, it is time to review your will so that you can better guard against possible claims from an estranged child or to ensure fairness between all your children and dependents. It will save bitter disputes between your loved ones after your death and possibly litigation costs out of all proportion to the sums in dispute.
For a free 15-minute consultation about making changes to your will or making a new one, please call Beth King on 020 8313 1300 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out more about our wills service here.
The information contained in this article is intended for general guidance only. It provides useful information but it is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice as the articles do not take into account specific circumstances. So do please Contact US for legal advice on the issues raised.