Reviewing Your Will

Recent developments highlight the importance of keeping your will up to date.

In this year's Budget the Government announced plans to promote charitable legacies by lowering the rate of IHT from 40% to 36% where at least 10% of the net estate after reliefs, exemptions and the nil-rate band passes to charity.

A recent consultation document sets out this proposal in greater detail. Ultimately, its success will depend on the extent to which individuals feel they have made adequate provision for their dependants prior to making any charitable gifts – and whether HMRC can resist the urge to over-complicate the proposed relief.

In any case, its introduction will lead many to review their wills – although this is something that should be done on a regular basis while the individual remains able.

The recent case of RSPCA v Sharp [2010] EWCA Civ 1474 demonstrated how drafting an imprecise will can throw up difficulties when trying to decide how an estate should be distributed.

The case hinged on the interpretation of a nil-rate band clause which, had the RSPCA been successful, would have resulted in the deceased's family receiving considerably smaller bequests than they thought they were entitled to. Such clauses need to be reviewed anyway following the introduction of the transferable nil-rate band in October 2007.

Making proper provision for your dependants was the subject of Ilott v Mitson [2011] EWCA Civ 346. This was an action brought...

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