I have left a gift in my will but the person has died. What do I need to do?
Aug 20, 2021
It’s usual to expect assets to be distributed in line with the wishes expressed in a will. Clients making their wills don’t often think about the possibility that an intended beneficiary - particularly someone younger than them - could die first.
What happens in that situation largely depends on who the beneficiary is. If they are a child of the will-maker, the inheritance intended for them could pass to their own children, if they have any. This effectively means the will-maker’s grandchildren inherit whatever was earmarked for the son or daughter. But if the beneficiary is not a child of the will-maker (or is, but doesn’t have any children), the situation is very different: their intended inheritance does not usually pass. Instead, it stays as part of the original estate, although it is possible for the will to provide for a different beneficiary to inherit instead.
The simple solution in your situation is to revisit your will and to get some legal advice on updating it to reflect the loss of this beneficiary. Your will may already provide for this scenario, by naming a different beneficiary who should inherit in their place. However, it is more likely that you would need to formally amend your will by adding a ‘codicil’. This is a separate legal document that should be attached to your will, which sets out precisely how you are amending your will to reflect a change in circumstances. The alternative to adding a codicil is to completely re-write your will, but unless the change affects other parts, a codicil is usually sufficient.
We help clients think about what is important to them, and how best to make sure their assets pass to the right people - and that includes keeping wills and other future plans up-to-date. It is so important to keep these under review. Because life changes and arrangements may also need to change.
To speak to us about making or updating a will, or about any other aspect of future planning, contact a member of the Private client department on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01264 353411
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