Update Your Will Week

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Half of Wills in the Midlands are out of date – Coventry SFE accredited Solicitor calls for residents to review their Wills ahead of “Update Your Will Week”

Research commissioned by Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) has revealed that over half (51%) of people living in the Midlands who have a will haven’t updated it for more than five years, meaning nearly half of wills made in the area are likely to be out-of-date. Of those, over a third (35%) haven’t updated it for over 7 years, and over a fifth (22%) haven’t dusted it off in more than a decade. 

Having an up-to-date and well drafted will is crucial in ensuring your wishes are carried out in the way you’d like when you die. 

This year, SFE, a membership body representing over 1,600 solicitors specialising in working with older and vulnerable people, has launched “Update Your Will Week” (28th March – 3rd April) in a bid to raise awareness of the importance of updating your will regularly. 

Michelle Gavin, Head of Wills, Trusts and Probate at leading Coventry law firm Band Hatton Button recommends that a will be reviewed and updated every five years, or when a major change in your life occurs that impacts you or your loved ones, such as divorce, marriage, a new birth or even death in the family. SFE’s research has revealed that almost a third (31%) of people in the midlands with a will have had significant changes to their lives and circumstances since they drafted it.

Michelle Gavin has warned that an unchecked and outdated will could cause severe implications for your loved ones after death – including missed inheritances and higher inheritance tax fees: “Many people assume that once you have drafted a will you don’t ever have to review it, and that your wishes will be carried out as you wish them to be posthumously – but unfortunately, that’s far from true.

“If you remarry, for example, your will gets revoked. Or if you marry into a family and have stepchildren that you’d like to inherit your assets – this won’t happen automatically unless you stipulate it in a new will. All these details are crucial to avoid family disputes – which we know can be very distressing for your loved ones.”

In fact, SFE’s research revealed that:

  • Only 16% of brits realise that remarrying invalidates a will. 
  • Less than a third (31%) of people realise stepchildren won’t be included in your will unless you stipulate that separately.
  • 17% of people wrongly think you can update your will by making changes on the original document and initialling them.

The findings have also revealed that 54% of people in the midlands don’t have a will in place at all – a worryingly steep figure. Michelle Gavin has highlighted that one in ten British families (11%) have been caught out by a ‘bad will’ – a will that is out of date or badly drafted – for example missing out on inheritance or their childhood home being sold without their knowledge. 

Michelle Gavin: “It’s great to see that many people living in the Midlands have a will in place – but we need to see a higher will uptake, and for those that have a will in place, it’s paramount that they review these frequently.

“I’d strongly recommend that people in the area look for their local SFE accredited solicitor.”

To find out more, or to find your local SFE accredited solicitor, visit: www.sfe.legal  

About Solicitors for the Elderly:

SFE was founded in 1996 and is a national organisation of more than 1,600 lawyers in the UK who support older and vulnerable people. SFE members receive expert training and best practice guidance to keep them up to date with developments in the sector. 

Survey data (commissioned by SFE):

  • In March 2022 YouGov polled 4,487 British adults for SFE (of those 2,943 are aged 40+). Of those, 1,861 have a will in place (40% of the total number polled).
  • In 2020 SFE polled 1,005 British adults aged 40+ to see if they had a will in place – 65% said they did.