Wills may need to be re-drafted in the wake of the credit crunch and recession, Martin Green, a partner and head of the private client division at Stratford-upon-Avon solicitors Lodders, has cautioned.
He points out that wealth is down by perhaps 30 per cent across the board yet wills, may fail to reflect this.
“I have seen a number of cases where people have left legacies to the children and perhaps not enough to the surviving spouse,” he said.
“Naturally, this is the law of unintentional consequences, and nobody wants to see a loved one struggling to get by. It shows how important it is to keep fully abreast of your affairs, particularly in challenging economic times.”
Much the same situation can arise in the case of gifts made to charities.
The problem comes if an individual has maybe made a string of legacies. These, Mr Green said, may have seemed fine at the time, but the position was very different in today’s straitened circumstances.
The danger was that legacies could now take a disproportionate amount of the overall estate, leaving what might be considered an inadequate provision for family members.
Mr Green said: “For most couples their children are at the forefront of their thoughts when a will is drawn up.
“Parents want the best for them and so hand down what they can to help with all the trials of life – buying a new home, helping to educate the grandchildren and so on.
“Where appropriate they may also want to support their community – the local hospital, the church, or the needy.
“Charities are also suffering in the downturn, but these sorts of sums can mount up and, given the degree to which investment and property values have fallen, may put a sizeable dent in an estate.”