In an ideal world, you sign your Will and you can then forget about it until a major life event occurs, such as your marriage or the birth of a grandchild. It is not that easy if you make bequests of specific assets in your Will.
Will and estate planning solicitors want your Will to have longevity so you do not have to keep changing your Will. In this article, we explain why a specialist Will solicitor will try to make sure your Will remains fit for purpose for as long as possible.
The Will and estate planning team at Solomons Solicitors can help you with all your Will and estate planning needs.
Contact our team today to find out how we can help you.
Wills and specific gifts and bequests
You may want your son to inherit the family home and your daughter to inherit the company shares. They may be carefully considered bequests at the time you sign your Will.
Fast forward, and you may have sold your company on retirement and invested some of the cash raised in improving your property. If you forget to review and change your Will then, on your death, your son inherits the family home. Your daughter will not inherit anything unless she is a beneficiary of residual assets. Alternatively, you may have chosen to take out equity release from the family home so there is less equity in the property than anticipated whilst the company shares may have increased in value.
Avoiding estate claims
Leaving specific assets to children may seem like bespoke estate planning but it only works if you keep up to date with asset sales and changes in value. If you do not do so, you risk your Will creating unfairness and being challenged by a claim being made against the estate.
Estate disputes can lead to family fallouts as well as the time and expense of sorting out an inheritance claim. That is why your Will solicitor may caution you against being too specific when making bequests in your Will as they know that despite your good intentions you may forget to amend your Will if you move house or if an asset is sold.
When you sign your Will, you roughly know what your assets are worth but circumstances change. There could be a property market crash, you could take out equity release on the family home or your company shares might significantly increase in value.
You may assume that things will sort themselves out but Will solicitors remember the cautionary tale of the case of Skillett v Skillett. A father left a smallholding to one son and cash gifts of roughly the same value to his other children. By the date of the father’s death, the value of the land had doubled. One child thought his father never intended to favour the one son over his other children and brought a claim against the estate.
The court in Skillett decided the Will was valid because fluctuating asset values did not undermine the father’s knowledge and approval of his Will when he signed it.
The takeaway from the Skillett case is that the consequences of one asset increasing in value may be unintended but it will not necessarily invalidate the Will.
Specialist Wills and estate planning advice
You do not want to review your Will every few months to ensure it remains fair to all your relatives. However, you may want a particular child to inherit the family business or you may want your wife to have the right to live in the old family home for the remainder of her life.
Making a Will that reflects your family and financial circumstances is crucial but it is equally important that your Will has longevity and covers matters such as the sale of an asset or a change in its value.
Our specialist Will solicitors can help you write a Will or review an existing Will to make sure that your Will is fit for purpose and does what you intend.
Speak to our Bournemouth-based Will Solicitors today
Solomons Solicitors can help you with all your Will and estate planning needs. We ensure you understand your options and have the legal paperwork needed to provide peace of mind.