New Year Brings 71% Increase in Changes to Wills
17 January 2018
Data collated by Co-op Legal Services has shown that January is a particularly popular time to make a Will or make changes to an existing Will. Could family feuds over the Christmas turkey be a contributing factor?
The beginning of a new year is recognised as being the prime time to evaluate things and make changes where needed. For some this may relate to getting fit, eating more healthily or pursuing a new career. For others it may relate to getting personal and financial affairs in order as well as planning for the future.
In January 2017, our Wills team saw a 71% increase in the number of amendments being made to existing Wills, compared to December 2016. During the same period, the team also saw a 58% increase in the number of new Wills being made.
Family Conflicts and New Year’s Resolutions
There could be any number of contributing factors which lead people to decide to get their affairs in order and their Wills up to date during January. It may be that the festive period has brought family members closer together, spurring people into action to ensure that their loved ones are protected in the future.
Or it could be quite the opposite. As families come together, family feuds over Christmas could motivate some to revaluate who should (and who shouldn’t) be included in their Will. Head of Wills, Solicitor James Antoniou, explains, “Christmas brings people together but it can also lead to conflicts and family fallouts – as a result we tend to see a peak in Will amendments coming through in January.”
For others, it could simply be that the beginning of a new year brings with it a fresh perspective and a desire to get finances, life planning and other affairs in order. It could be that some have been considering making a Will or updating an existing Will for some time, but have decided to put it off until after the holidays.
Why It’s Important to Make, Review and Update Your Will
Without a valid Will in place, you have no control over who will inherit your money, property, possessions and even your pets after you die. The law will decide who gets what under strict inheritance laws called the Rules of Intestacy.
Despite this, research that we conducted in 2017 revealed that a significant proportion of people still need to make a Will. Of the people we asked, 45% said that they did not yet have a Will in place. This means that when they die, everything they own in their Estate will be distributed in line with the Rules of Intestacy, potentially going against their wishes. This can cause upset and undue distress for loved ones at an already challenging time, and it can even result in arguments between family members.
If you do have a valid Will in place, it’s important to review it regularly to check that it is still an accurate reflection of your wishes. Read over your Will after any significant life event, such as the birth of a child or grandchild.
It’s important also to note that getting married and getting divorced can both directly affect the terms of your Will. After either of these events you will need to establish whether your Will is still effective and a true reflection of your wishes. If it isn’t, then you should make a new Will as soon as possible.