Review your Will for 2013 and start the New Year as you mean to go on

After a long Christmas break, and plenty of excess living, it’s time to look ahead to 2013 and begin making plans – usually in the form of those dreaded New Year’s resolutions.

Although probably not one of the first things that spring to mind, when deciding what they should be, scheduling a review of your Will is probably one the best ways to begin the New Year on the front foot.

All too often we see Wills that have been written many years ago, then forgotten about until the time comes, only for the family to then discover that its contents – whilst applicable when it was written – are no longer anything like how they envisaged they would be.

This is because making your Will involves tackling such tricky subjects, that once it’s done, the tendency is to stick it in the back of a cupboard somewhere and forget about it.

But times change, people change and – most importantly - situations change. Ask yourself, does my Will still accurately reflect all my wishes? Have I acquired any new assets? Are the guardians I nominated to look after my children still the best people for the job?

Are my executors still the right people?In many cases, we’ve seen Wills where the executors were nominated so long ago that the people in question are simply no longer around to perform their duties as executor.

In this case the duties are transferred to the residual beneficiaries - not always the best people to do the job. 

They could be living abroad; there may be more than one or two of them; they might not agree and get on.

These are all ingredients that can lead to a protracted and more difficult process than it need be.It could also be that aspects of your Will no longer make sound financial sense.

We had a recent case where the Will - written in the late 70s – actually nominated the local bank as executor.

Whilst that may have been a good thing to do back then, with banks now charging around 4% of the overall estate for this service, it has significantly reduced the amount of money going to loved ones.

Did you write your Will before 2007? If you did, then be aware of substantial changes to Inheritance Tax legislation under the last government.

Anyone with an IHT planning style Will and property with a value of £325,000 or more should really review their Will or it could end up costing their beneficiaries a significant amount of money in the future.

So, before you dust off those trainers and go trundling back to the gym, with your maxed out credit card burning a hole in your pocket, take a few moments to look at your Will and make sure that everything’s still in order.

If it isn’t, get it amended, then you can start 2013 with a clear head and true peace of mind.