New Year new Will - getting your affairs into shape

06 January 2021

The beginning of a new year is commonly recognised as a time to evaluate things and make positive changes. For some this can include, healthy eating, getting fit or pursuing a new career. For others the focus might be on organising personal and financial affairs, as well as planning for the future.

Our will writing team often see an increase in people getting their affairs in order at the beginning of the year. There are several reasons why January can be a good time to put plans in place for the future, such as making or updating a will.

New Year’s resolution to make a will

The festive period can bring friends and family closer together, even this year with its new traditions of video calls and outdoor meetings. Although coronavirus restrictions have meant that many families couldn’t get together in the usual way, the closeness people have managed to find remotely may have spurred some people into action, to ensure their loved ones are protected in the future.

Or it could also be the opposite. As families come together over Christmas (remotely or otherwise) family feuds can 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 a while, but decided to put it off until after the holiday period.

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 or even your pets after you die. Instead, the law will decide who gets what under inheritance laws called the rules of intestacy.

Despite this, a lot of people have yet to make a will. This means that when they die, everything they own (which is called their estate) will be distributed in line with the rules of intestacy, potentially 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 or entering into or ending a relationship.

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 check whether your will is still effective and whether it’s still a true reflection of your wishes. If it isn’t, then you should make a new will as soon as possible.

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