How to Future-Proof Your Will

16 August 2019

If you're making a Will, then this means you're already looking to the future and making preparations. But preparing for the future isn't quite as simple as just setting out who should inherit what from you when you die. There are a number of factors that you'll need to consider in order to help future-proof your Will.

This is one of the reasons why it can be risky to make a Will without seeking professional advice. Unless you're very familiar with the legalities and complexities of Will Writing, as well as and the technical terminology that needs to be used, then your Will could be found to be invalid or ineffective after your death.

If you make your Will with the support of a regulated professional Will Writer, such as Co-op Legal Services, you can talk through your options, ask questions, receive recommendations and ultimately have your Will drafted to meet your specific requirements. This way, you'll know that your Will is tailored to your needs and is ready to withstand what the future may bring.

These are some of the key points that our Will Writers will discuss with you to help future-proof your Will...

Appointing Substitutes

When you make a Will, there are certain roles that you will need to appoint, including:

  • Executor – the person responsible for administering your Estate and carrying out the terms of your Will
  • Beneficiaries – the people entitled to inherit your Estate
  • Trustees – if your Will creates a Trust, then these are the people responsible for managing the Trust
  • Guardians – if you have children under the age of 18, you can appoint guardians to look after them in the event of your death

When making a Will it's easy to overlook who you would want to step into each of these roles if your initial choices either die or are unable or unwilling to act in a particular role. If a Beneficiary dies before you, it's important to consider what will happen to their share of your Estate. If your named Executor is unable or unwilling to act when you die, who would you choose to step into their shoes? And if your chosen Guardian for your children isn't able to take on this role when the time comes, would you still want to have a say in who your children go to live with?

These are all important factors to consider, as no one can know what the future will hold.

Generally speaking, you can choose anyone you consider suitable to take on these roles, including friends or relatives, and the same person can take on more than one of these roles. In the case of appointing Executors you could also consider appointing professionals (such as Co-op Legal Services).

Do bear in mind, however, that there are restrictions around who can witness your Will.

Make Provisions for Children that Don't Exist Yet

When making your Will, it's important to also consider family members that don't exist yet.

This may feel strange, but imagine you leave gifts in your Will of £2,000 each to, for example, your two grandchildren, Lara and Thomas, but by the time you die, your daughter has had a third child, Benjamin. Benjamin hasn't been named in your Will, because it was written before he was born, so he is entitled to inherit nothing while Lara and Thomas are entitled to £2,000 each.

It is possible to make provisions in your Will for such eventualities. You can draft your Will in a way that provides for future family members, including children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces, even though they don't yet exist. Our Will Writers can advise you of your options and draft your Will in a way that caters for family members who haven't been born yet.

Protect Your Will from Being Voided By Marriage

Did you know that getting married automatically revokes any existing Will that you have in place? Many people don't, meaning that they are unwittingly left without a valid Will after they tie the knot.

It is possible to prevent your Will from being voided by your marriage though. In order to do this, you need to make your Will in "contemplation" of your marriage, using specific wording and naming your future spouse. It's not enough to speculate on a possible marriage to an unknown individual that may happen sometime in the future. But if you're in a committed relationship or you are engaged to be married, then this could be something you want to consider.

Your Will Writer will be able to provide information and guidance on how to draft your Will in contemplation of your marriage.

Consider How Your Estate Could Increase or Decrease in Future

Finally, it's important to consider that what you own now might not accurately reflect what you will own at the time of your death. Your Estate could increase or it could decrease over time, regardless of the preparations that you put in place.

If you go into care, for example, the cost of care fees could significantly deplete your Estate. For this reason, it's important to think carefully about how to structure your Will so that your Estate is distributed in the right way. This will need to take into account the order in which different legacies will be paid and the proportions of your Estate that you'd like loved ones to receive. If you fail to do this then some of your loved ones could lose out on their inheritance altogether.

For more information, see Legacies in Wills and Probate Explained.

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