The average adult makes around 35,000 decisions each day. Even allowing for 7 hours’ sleep, that’s around 2,058 decisions each waking hour, 34 decisions each waking minute, or around one decision every two waking seconds.
Whilst many of those decisions are likely to be mundane, arguably borderline subconscious even, our brains are working, sifting and so deciding, all the time.
Decisions can be triggered by present immediate circumstances, historic past circumstances, or even potential future circumstances. Decisions can be triggered by careful consideration, or the need to respond reflexively, or in response to a spectrum of variables in between.
Setting the semantics of psychology and the myriad of theories of how our brains work aside, the ability to make worldly decisions is unarguably linked to us being…..alive! So if we accept that our ability to make decisions is dependant on our ability to still be alive, we must also therefore accept that our wishes (and the decisions that underpin them) must be made and communicated whilst we are still alive, even if those decisions are only to take effect after we have died. What kind of wishes would apply to this situation? Easy: the wishes we make in our Will.
Life, like many things, is in constant change, whereas death (regardless of your spiritual beliefs) has an unarguable finality to it when it comes to making decisions. We cannot change our own Will after we have died, so it is very important to revisit it to make sure it reflects our wishes (and the current law) before our Will comes into effect at our passing.
Does this mean your Will needs reviewing several times each year? Probably not. Some decisions can be drafted into your Will. For example, appointing substitute beneficiaries if your primary beneficiaries die before you. Specific gifts of particular items assume the item(s) will still be there at death, but if they are not the gift simply fails. Specific cash gifts, however, may require the sale of other assets to satisfy – so extra care should be taken in decisions to make cash gifts in a Will.
However, it is not possible to draft for every eventuality in your Will, and so some changes do require new action to be taken and new decisions to be made. Assets are like decisions; the larger and more important they are, the more significance they shall have and therefore the more time and attention they deserve.
Acquiring a valuable asset, the birth or adoption of a child, entering or ending a marriage or civil partnership, or turning one asset (a home) into another asset (cash), are common examples of significant changes that trigger important decisions to be made and these decisions should extend to you reviewing (and likely remaking) your Will.
Death is certain. Taxation too and so tax implications should also be considered, with advice sought to inform decisions about your changing estate during your life.
Your Will is more than just your post-life Wishlist – it should reflect your circumstances, relationships, assets, and even your tax position whilst you are very much still alive.