Why modern life for over-50s makes writing a Will a necessity

By Lenore Rice

Surveys consistently conclude that approximately 7 out of every 10 adults in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK do not have a Will, and there is concern that over-50s in particular are failing to prevent potential problems in respect of their estate.

The divorce rate among over-50s is growing steadily, with a recent report suggesting it has climbed 85 per cent since 2000. That means that many over-50s who had a Will need to urgently revisit it in order to take into account changes in their relationship status. Failure to update an existing Will or make a new one could mean that the estate passes to an ex-spouse instead of a new partner. A quarter of over-50s who have a Will have not updated it in the past 5 years, and 10 per cent have not revisited it after a decade. And of course, of equal concern, 70 per cent don't have a Will at all.

A divorce or separation is not the only development in modern life that should prompt a Will to be written or updated. Many over-50s will have seen property prices increase dramatically since they first purchased their house, even with the price falls in 2007, meaning that the size of their estate has grown, and they are at risk of passing over the threshold for inheritance tax. Careful estate planning can help reduce the amount of inheritance tax that needs to be paid out of an estate, and writing a Will is a good first step to getting your affairs in order.

There is one more week left of Will Aid, which has been running throughout the month of November. You can write a Will and make a donation to charity instead of paying the solicitor a fee. Wilson Nesbitt in Northern Ireland is participating in the Will Aid scheme. To speak to a solicitor about writing a Will or updating an existing one contact one of the probate solicitors at Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast or Bangor by calling 0800 840 9290.