Last Will and Inheritance
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3 Times When You Need To Review Your Last Will And Testament

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A Last Will and Testament is an important legal document that sets out your wishes for any young children and your assets in the event of your death. Therefore, as your circumstances change, it is probable that your wishes will also change. For this reason, I recommend reviewing your Will every couple of years or when there is a major change in your life. This post sets out the three most common occasions when a Will should be reviewed.
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First a quick reminder of the position where you have no Will in place. Where there is no Will, the rules of intestacy apply. These will vary according to the country in which you hold assets. This is even the case within the UK as rules vary between Northern Ireland, Scotland and England & Wales. For further information see the HMRC website here. Without the guidance of a Will, each court will seek to impose its own rules. This leads to lengthy legal processes and so the cost of winding up an estate without a Will is more expensive.  It is also far less certain that your wishes will be followed. For more information on intestacy rules, please see here.
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Change in Marital Status

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Marriage

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If you are getting married, you may wish to review your Last Will and Testament. Many couples want to gift their assets to each other in the event of either of them dying. Whilst many jurisdictions will favour the spouse where there is no Will, this is not a given. In England & Wales, where there are no children all the estate is passed to the surviving spouse, but where children exist, they will share in the estate. In the UAE, where there is no Will, assets of Muslims and non-Muslims within the country are distributed according to local law. This favours the male side of the family.
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Divorce

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If your marriage has broken down and you are considering divorce, your wishes may well have changed. Under English Law, where a Will predates the finalisation of the divorce, the former spouse is not recognised under the Will. This creates difficulties if he or she is the executor (person responsible for executing the Will) or a beneficiary.
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Death of a Spouse

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If you become a Widow or Widower, you will need to review your Will if your spouse was a beneficiary under your Will. This is true of any beneficiary who pre-deceases you. Under English law, where there is nothing stated in the Will, the children of the deceased automatically inherit their parent’s share of the inheritance equally. This would not be suitable if the children are not your intended beneficiaries. Instead, you may wish to have the other named beneficiaries inherit the deceased’s share.
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Children In Your Last Will & Testament

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Guardianship

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The arrival of children is an important life event. It is also an essential time to review your Last Will and Testament. If this is your first child, you will need to consider guardians for your child if you and your spouse die when he or she is still young.
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Temporary Guardianship

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As expatriates, you will be living away from home. It is likely you will be living away from those whom you wish to appoint as permanent guardians. Therefore, you should consider appointing temporary guardians under the laws of the country in which you reside. This document should be kept up to date as often expats move to different countries and this makes the fulfilment of the temporary guardianship more problematic.
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Adult Children

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Our children never stop being our children, no matter how old they are. Sadly, sometimes they may take turns which we disapprove of or suffer problems that may be exacerbated with the inheritance of a sum of money. Where this is the case, steps should be taken to ensure they are protected against themselves. A correctly structured Last Will and Testament can provide for them but also provide you with some control over how they receive their inheritance.
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At other times, we may not agree with their choice of partner or they may be going through a divorce. Where a child inherits money, this can be subject to a financial order in any divorce. Most parents would not want a former spouse to receive any benefit from their estate no matter how indirectly. Here again, a correctly structured Will can resolve some of these issues.
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Buying Real Estate Overseas

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When you buy a property outside of your home country, it is highly likely that the property will be subject to the laws of the country in which it is situated, not the laws of your home country. The laws in that country may be very different from your home country. Therefore, when buying a property overseas, ask the lawyer assisting you with the purchase to explain the estate planning facts. How is the property dealt with on death? Is there anything you can do to influence this?
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Summary

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It is important that your Last Will and Testament reflects your wishes, circumstances, and current legislation. Therefore, it is essential that your Will is reviewed regularly. The above are only 3 times when a review is recommended, there are many other occasions.
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If you would like to have your Will reviewed, please contact me Contact Us.

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