7 Occasions to Review Estate Planning in England and Wales

7 Occasions to Review Estate Planning.

The best time to take a fresh look at your estate plan – (Wills, Powers of Attorney, Trusts, agreements such as Shareholder, Prenuptial, Cohabitation, IHT Planning etc) and consider revisions is anytime you experience a major life change.  Though we would encourage a brief informal review on an annual basis, what follows are some of the more critical moments.

That is assuming that you already have in your estate plan:

  1. A Last Will and Testament
  2. Lasting Power of Attorney Property and Financial Affairs (or an old Enduring Power of Attorney
  3. Lasting Power of Attorney Health and Welfare – where you live, who you see, medical and religious matters etc.
  4. Trusts have been considered?
  5. Funeral Plans considered?

If you are over 18, the first three are pretty much essential – especially 2 and 3 or you might find yourself at the mercy of the Local Council Social Services Department if things go wrong. There is no automatic right for family, friends or partners or even your spouse to look after you or your money in the event of accident or illness.

1) Have you recently married, separated, divorced or started living together?

If so, then you need to review your estate planning or everyone could end up in Court fighting over you and your assets at vast expense.

With divorce, your former partner is still liable to inherit until your divorce has got as far as the Decree Absolute being granted. Up to that time, your partner could still inherit. But you need to make sure the former spouse is no longer named as a beneficiary or joint owner on any savings accounts, retirement plans or life insurance. And bear in mind any ongoing financial responsibility.

2) More children of your own or your partners?

Make sure that child is included in the Will and any trusts.

I have seen Wills set up to benefit the first born child by their name and do not automatically include future born children. Not something we would normally do! Ensure all children are included – assuming that is your wish. And beware of new rules giving rights to children you have acted in a parental role for – we can see a few Court cases coming up on that one!

3) Has someone in your family died? Or got old?

Has that changed your assets? Were they Trustees or Executors or Attorneys for you? Are they too old to cope now (be fair – it can be a big job!) Did you appoint alternative people – and would the aged ones feel they had to do the job even though it would be a big strain for them? It really is very common.

4) Have you moved to a new area?

This won’t affect the validity of your plans, as long as you don’t move abroad when a review is absolutely essential. But are children’s guardians still relevant – or far away so children might have to change schools and lose their friends as well as their parents?   Are attorneys and executors of the Will still appropriate?

5) Won the jackpot? Review Estate Planning Now!

If you own a house in London, you probably have! But seriously, if you have become a lot better off, then it is definitely time to review your estate planning. You might even need to talk to our Tax Barrister about saving some inheritance tax.   At 40%, it takes a big slice of larger estates – and an ordinary house in many areas on its own can take you into the Inheritance Tax Bracket.

6) When was your Estate Planning set up?

If it was more than 5 years, it needs review – and we often see them 30 years out of date!

7) How to keep you Legal Protection up to date easily…

We encourage people to join our Peace of Mind Service to enable their Estate Planning to be briefly reconsidered on a regular basis, to make sure it is still right for you and your family, as well as the changing tax and legal system.

If you would like us to review estate planning, please contact us or ring 03 300 102 300.