Recent high profile celebrity deaths highlight how important it is to keep your will up to date, says a Channel Islands wills expert.

Philip Seymour Hoffman's will was discovered to be out of date when he died suddenly at the age of 47 on 2 February 2014 of a drugs overdose.

Wills specialist at Collas Crill Julie Harrigan said: "There has been a lot of speculation in the media about the contents of the will of the late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. One thing that has stood out is the importance of reviewing your will."

Mr Hoffman made his will around ten years before his untimely death this year.

Julie explained: "It would appear that the will only mentioned his eldest son, who at the time the will was written was Mr Hoffman's only child. However, Mr Hoffman subsequently went on to have two daughters. 

"Sadly cases like this are not uncommon. In fact in another high profile celebrity death in 2008, the actor Heath Ledger had also not updated his will following the birth of his daughter in 2005 and, therefore, his parents and three sisters were the beneficiaries named under the terms of his will."

Julie says that once people have signed their will, many store it away safely and never think about it again. But as the cases of Mr Hoffman and Mr Ledger demonstrate, it is important to review your wills so that you don't run the risk of accidentally leaving out - or in - someone you do or don't want to benefit.

"Although it is possible for children who are omitted from a parent's will by reason of error rather than on purpose to benefit from that estate, to resolve this issue could prove costly for the estate and indeed it could result in a delay in winding up the estate administration," said Julie.

Julie's two top tips to remember:

  • Review your will every 5 to 7 years or after big events e.g. a birth, death, separation
  • Mention everyone you want to inherit - if naming children or grandchildren individually, make provision for any other children or grandchildren you may have