Why should I update my will?
The most common reasons to update your will is an increase or decrease in the value of assets and the sale or purchase of assets, but there are many other factors that can impact the relevancy of your will.
Statistically, it has been reported that preparation of wills and succession plans are most popular with people over 55 years of age. Mylegacy.ie confirmed their survey showed 57% of the over 55-year-olds demographic had made a will previously. However, only one-fifth of the age group between 25 years and 34 years have put a will and estate plan in place for their death.
29% of participants to survey carried out by Royal London, a pensions and investment company, identified starting a family as the ideal time to put a will in place. Only 32% of adults surveyed by Royal London say they are undecided as to who would look after their estate when they die.
Despite all these views, as a nation, only three out of ten Irish people have a will in place. If you are one of the people that have made a plan, it’s essential that you keep your will up to date with the changes in the inheritance laws and your life situations:
1. Changes in Inheritance Tax
The last decade has heralded many changes, not least the size of personal wealth available for distribution after death. Many of you reading this have a will in place but have put it out of your mind since you visited your solicitor. Changes in the laws over the years makes it essential to update your this legal document to ensure it reflects your current wishes and serves to look after the people in your life. Publicpolicy.ie reports that most 60% of the wealth in Ireland is owned by those over 55 years of age and the most significant components of tangible household wealth is in the primary residence and farms. The Fair Deal scheme has now forced many to revisit their succession plans.
2. Senior Care
One of the reasons people choose to review their will is they are now older, their children are independent and senior care needs for themselves and their spouses becomes top of mind. It is vital to have a plan in place to get the best care for your needs as you are growing older without burdening your children. Address your potential care requirements and changes to the law, such as the Fair Deal Scheme, with regular updates.
3. Children and grandchildren
You may have made your will when your family was young. Your children or grandchildren may now be over the age of 18, so you may wish to update earlier trust will put in place until they reached the age of 18 or older. Once a beneficiary is over 18, the asset can be legally given to them without the need for a trust or trustees to be in place. If you have just started your family, then it is a great time to start the process for appointing trustees and guardians to young children under 18, an important consideration in the event an unforeseeable event.
As we journey through life, our relationships with people can change. You may have left gifts in your original will to people that are no longer in your life by death or by choice. Relationships with others may have deteriorated so you may no longer wish to include them. Perhaps you favoured friends in your last original requests, and now you want to include family. You may have been single, and now you have young children to consider. You may have separated, divorced or your dependents may now be independent. Take the opportunity to reconfirm, rethink and readjust your instructions in light of any changed personal circumstances.
5. Foreign Assets
If you own property abroad, it is advisable that you make a separate will in the country where the property is located. It would be wise to talk to a solicitor about the succession laws in that country to ensure your dependents are provided for and are not surprised by inheritance tax bills that can arise when they inherit the foreign property. If you sold a property in Ireland or abroad, it’s prudent to update your will to reflect the sale of the property you no longer own, particularly if you mentioned it as a specific bequest to someone.
6. Losing Loved Ones
You may have suffered a significant personal loss of a loved one, perhaps a spouse, a life partner or a child that is still named in your will. As the inheritance tax laws change, periodically reviewing this with a solicitor enables you to consider the tax implications for beneficiaries and structure your requests in a tax-efficient way. The limit to which a specific beneficiary can inherit without paying tax may have increased or decreased in the years since you made the original will. Increasing or decreasing a gift in consideration of a beneficiary’s inheritance tax threshold is very common.
7. Moving Jurisdiction
You may have moved to another country from Ireland in the last decade. Perhaps you have moved your family or retired to Ireland, and your will was made in another country. Moving to a new country or buying assets in another country is another common reason for people to revisit their will. Making a will in your country of residence is very important. However, if you are abroad and you still hold property, investments or savings in Ireland, it is crucial to ensure you have made and updated your will since your departure to ensure your instructions for your Irish assets are clear. You may have left temporarily, or you may intend living abroad permanently, either way, it is essential you update your will wherever you have assets.
Life is always changing so should your will. If you have not recently reviewed your will, or perhaps never made a will, contact our office to get expert advice.