Half all wills in the South of England are "out of date"

Anthony Weber of Coles Miller Solicitors
Anthony Weber of Coles Miller Solicitors

Almost half (48%) of all people in the South who’ve made a will haven’t updated it for more than five years, according to research commissioned by Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE).

So nearly half the South’s wills are likely to be out of date. Of those, 33% haven’t been updated for more than seven years, and 21% haven't been dusted off in at least a decade.

Having an up-to-date and well drafted will is crucial in ensuring your wishes are carried out correctly when you die.

This year, SFE – which represents more than 1,600 solicitors specialising in working with older and vulnerable people – has launched Update Your Will Week (28 March to 3 April 2022) to raise awareness of the issue.

SFE solicitor Anthony Weber, a Partner at Coles Miller in Poole, says a will should be reviewed and updated every five years – or when there is a major change in your life, such as divorce, marriage, a birth or death in the family.

SFE’s research shows 33% of people in the South with a will have had significant changes to their lives and circumstances since they drafted it.

An unchecked and outdated will could cause severe implications for your loved ones after death – including missed inheritances and higher Inheritance Tax (IHT) liability.

Mr Weber said: “Many people assume that once you have drafted a will you don’t ever have to review it, and that your wishes will be carried out – but unfortunately, that’s far from true.

“If you remarry, for example, your will gets revoked. Or if you marry into a family and have stepchildren that you’d like to inherit your assets – this won’t happen automatically unless you stipulate it in a new will. All these details are crucial to avoid family disputes, which we know can be very distressing for your loved ones.”

SFE’s research revealed that:
•    only 16% of people realise that remarrying invalidates a will
•    only 31% realise that stepchildren won’t be included in your will unless you stipulate that separately
•    17% of people wrongly think you can update your will by making changes on the original document and initialing them.

Furthermore, 53% of people in the South don’t have a will in place at all – a worryingly steep figure. And 11% of British families have been caught out by a ‘bad will’, one that is out of date or drafted badly. People have missed out on an inheritance – or their childhood home has been sold without their knowledge.

Mr Weber said: “It’s great to see that many people living in the South have a will in place but there should be a higher uptake. And for those that do have a will in place, it’s paramount that they review them frequently.”

For more information, contact wills and probate Partner Anthony Weber at Coles Miller’s Fleetsbridge office, (01202 338888), aweber@coles-miller.co.uk, www.coles-miller.co.uk

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