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Murray Beith Murray LLP is a leading Scottish private client law firm.

For 175 years we have specialised in meeting the legal, financial and administrative needs of individuals and families, family trusts, charities and private companies.

Call us today on 0131 225 1200
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What happens if you don’t review your Succession Planning?

Kathryn Johnston

Your succession planning is not an exercise to carry out and then forget. You must be vigilant throughout your life to ensure your end-of-life wishes can be fulfilled and that your estate planning remains effective.

Why should you update your Will and Succession Plan?

The only constant in life is change.  When there is a material change in your circumstances, it is essential to consider how that might impact on your Will and Succession Plan. There are many situations which should give you pause for thought. You should consider reviewing and, if necessary, updating your Will and Estate Plan if one of more of the following happen:

  • You marry or enter into a Civil Partnership;
  • Your relationship breaks down;
  • You have a child;
  • You have a partner but are not married to them or in a civil partnership with them;
  • You dispose assets mentioned in your Will or your level of wealth significantly changes;
  • You receive an inheritance;
  • You move abroad;
  • You hold assets in a foreign country.

If any of the above circumstances happen to you, you should review your succession planning and seek advice as to how those changes might affect your ultimate aims.  Entering a new relationship might mean that you want to change your beneficiaries, as may the breakdown of a relationship.  Many more people are choosing not to marry or enter into a Civil Partnership but are in long-term, committed relationships.  If this is the case, you should check your Will to make sure that your partner is provided for. 

If you have children, they will inherit any asset passing to them at the age of 16.  This can result in young beneficiaries receiving significant wealth, and they may not be able to manage it appropriately.  As such, you may wish to include trust provisions.

If your existing Will contains specific legacies and you do not hold the assets mentioned at the time of your death, your beneficiaries may not receive anything from your estate.  Alternatively, they may receive assets you did not want them to receive (depending on the terms of your Will).  Therefore, if you dispose of assets mentioned in your Will, or your named beneficiaries predecease you, you should seek advice as to how this affects your succession planning.

Another reason to review your succession planning if you have a significant change in your life is for tax purposes.  The liability on your estate might increase or decrease with a change in circumstances.

What happens if you don’t update it?

Put simply, a failure to update your Will means it will be out of date and potentially not reflect your true wishes at the time of your death. This failure might also cost your estate dearly in tax.

How to update your Will and Estate Plan

Having taken the trouble to consider your succession planning and make a Will, it is relatively straightforward to review and update it, if necessary.  Even if you are not sure your changed circumstances will have a significant impact on your estate, it is sensible to check.

You should contact a solicitor who is experienced in this area of law to discuss the impact of the changes on your succession planning. They can advise as to whether this change is positive or negative and confirm whether your Will still reflects your wishes.  You might find that a simple Codicil is needed to make some minor changes to your Will.  Alternatively, the extent of change might mean a new Will is required because the existing Will is no longer fit for purpose.

Specialist Estate Planning Lawyers, Edinburgh

Kathryn Johnston is an Associate within Murray Beith Murray Asset Protection group and is an estate planning specialist. If you would like to discuss any of the issues covered in this article, or if you require assistance with any other matter, please complete our contact form or call us on 0131 225 1200.

Murray Beith Murray was established in 1849 as advisors for generations of clients, committed to our values of integrity, expertise and trust. This aim and these values continue to this day, as does our commitment to be here when you need us.

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