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THE COST OF NOT REVIEWING YOUR WILL REGULARLY

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Matthew Dorrell, of Soteria Trusts and Platinum Fiduciary Services Hong Kong, discusses the importance of an updated Will

When Anita died unexpectedly last year, her new husband of three years learned he would not receive the stocks and investments she had, as she purchased it and kept it in her name before their marriage. Anita and her husband did not write a new Will after their marriage, and therefore, her personal estate will be divided according to the testacy law of Hong Kong. This means that her stocks and investments will be divided between her husband and her 15-year-old son from a previous marriage. Moreover, now Anita’s husband will have to go through a lengthy probate process to be able to access these parts of her estate.

Many people think that making a Will is a once-in-a-lifetime activity, but it is important to get your Will reviewed every time your circumstances change. For those who own assets in multiple countries, those tasks are more complex, as they require a separate Will for each jurisdiction in which they own any assets.

WHEN TO REVIEW YOUR WILL

You need to review your Will after any major life events. Some particularly important times to review or write your Will are when:

You acquire your first assets. Anyone with assets, be it a pension, an investment or a property – even if they are not married – should have at least a basic Will drafted. If there is no Will at all, your assets might be subject to local testacy rules, and it may create unnecessary trouble for close family to access them.

You get married or enter into a civil partnership. Marriage or civil partnership automatically revokes any Will you may have had previously. This means that it will lose its legal effect and will not have an impact on what happens to your estate. Instead, your estate will be governed by intestacy rules. To retain control over your estate, it is important to create a new Will as soon as possible.

You divorce or dissolve a civil partnership. Divorce does not invalidate a Will. However, it automatically deprives your former spouse or civil partner of any benefit they may have received under the Will. At the same time any gifts for other beneficiaries remain intact, for example for the ex-spouse’s child, which may not be in line with your wishes. Therefore, it is crucial to get your Will updated after divorce and before remarriage.

Your children or grandchildren are born. The birth of a child or grandchild should act as a reminder to review and update your Will. Adding your child as a beneficiary and naming a legal guardian should be a priority when you welcome a new addition to your family.

You sell or buy property, move house, or have a notable change in your life. After any significant change in your financial situation, you should review your Will – especially if you sell or move house, or even move countries, as the testacy rules might be different there.

The real cost of not reviewing your Will regularly is not quantifiable until something happens. But it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars, or it could be a lifetime of family disputes or months or years in probate court.

If you would like to have an expert review your current Will to see if it’s up-to-date and in line with the latest regulatory changes, contact [email protected], or www.will-experts.com. A review will not cost you anything, it only costs you the time to send the copy of your Will.

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