Roche Legal, the multi-award winning York solicitors, are backing a campaign aimed at tackling the more than 30 million people in the UK who do not have a Will and to ensure those who have made one regularly update the contents.
Today( Mon Jan 23) marks the start of national Update Your Will Week 2023 and Lynsey Bashforth, senior solicitor at Roche Legal, believes it is vital to regularly review your wishes to avoid future problems.
A central theme of the week is research commissioned by SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) and Roche Legal showing 69% of parents in the North of England have no legal plans in place to make sure their children are looked after, should the parents die.
Lynsey said: “ Update your Will Week is important in getting the message and information out there and if people don’t know why they should be making a Will then the system is failing. It is important that clients take ownership of their Will and not put it away in a drawer and forget about it.
“The Covid-19 pandemic did see a huge spike in people wanting to make a Will and then people got over the dangers posed by the virus and once again it has been put to one side as something that can be done at a later date.
“Renewing a Will is absolutely essential and at Roche Legal we say that it should be revisited every couple of years because circumstances change which can have significant implications such as divorce, a child going through a divorce and the impact on savings with taxation rules constantly changing.
“There is a perception that it is young people who do not have a Will but there are many people over 60 years old who have never drafted a Will. It is common I am afraid.”
Besides a Will stating where assets are going to go there is the question of who will be looking after a child in the event of a parent or both parents dying.
Lynsey explained: “You can have a situation where the parents have divorced and they may have made separate Wills with different instructions about guardianship for their children. That could create significant issues and the courts have the power to intervene.
“It is important to point out that Godparents don’t count as legal guardians, so to avoid the risk of the courts deciding what happens to your children, you really should make a will and update it regularly.”
Another key element of the current rules that needs to be fully understood is that only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy- when there isn’t a Will in place. “I think making a Will is still seen as a bit morbid and there is the belief that in the event of death everything goes to the partner but under the law cohabitees don’t benefit at all from the estate in intestate unless there are joint assets: “added Lynsey.
“It is important to emphasise that new technology has made the process so much easier and at Roche Legal we are at the cutting edge of these positive developments including digital and virtual appointments. Hopefully, we are helping change the attitude to solicitors and it is now a very different environment.
“We work closely with police federations, other organisations and individual clients to hopefully make some impact on that figure of more than 30 million who don’t have a Will.”
Note to editors:
Rachel is available for interview and can be contacted on 01904 866139 or through Chris Jones Media on 07774 772820 or 07738 005133.