If you already have a Will in place, it is important to keep it under regular review. As we go through the highs and lows of life, our circumstances can change dramatically, and this may mean that your existing Will may no longer be appropriate or valid. In this article we will explain 7 reasons why you should update your Will.
How often should I be reviewing my Will?
As a rule of thumb, it is recommended to review your Will at least every 3-5 years. However, certain changes and events may require you to look at your Will earlier:
If you became married after making your Will, it will now be revoked unless there was specific wording to state that your Will was made in contemplation of that marriage.
If you are now engaged in divorce proceedings after making your Will, it is important to remember that your partner will continue to benefit from your Will until the decree absolute is granted. You may therefore want to review your Will during the separation period.
As with marriage, civil partnerships automatically revoke a Will unless there was specific wording that it was made in contemplation of that civil partnership.
If you have separated from your civil partner and they are named in your Will, they will continue to benefit until the civil partnership has been formally dissolved.
Change of Executors:
Executors are the people you appoint in your Will to administer and distribute your estate after you have died. If your executors have died, no longer have capacity or have lost touch with you, you should review your Will. You may wish to appoint your Solicitors as well to ensure you are not left without an Executor or so the other executors have professional guidance during the estate administration.
Change of beneficiaries:
Since making your Will, some of the named beneficiaries may have died or lost touch with you. Perhaps you are now closer to one of your beneficiaries and would like them to receive a greater share. You should keep your chosen beneficiaries under review to ensure your estate goes fully in accordance with your wishes.
If you are considering removing a close family member or dependant from your Will, make sure that you seek professional advice as they may still be able to make a claim on your estate after you have died.
New children or grandchildren:
If you have welcomed more children or grandchildren into your family, you may need to update your Will. In some cases, the children or grandchildren are referred to by name rather than as a group so newborn children may not be covered by your existing Will.
You may now be at the point in your life when you are thinking about your care needs in the future and how you will pay for it. It may be time to update your Will to incorporate a life interest trust for your property which would help protect half of your property from care home fees.
If you are recently retired, this is normally a good juncture to take stock of your affairs and ensure your Will is drafted as you wish.
Changes in assets:
Since making your Will, your wealth may have increased or decreased substantially which may mean your Will is no longer appropriate for you.
If you now have additional assets such as property or a business, review your Will so that it is clear how you would like these assets to be dealt with.
If the value of your estate is now smaller, you may also need to review your Will. For example, if you have included cash legacies, these will be paid first and could mean the beneficiaries of your residuary estate (which is everything that is left over after expenses, liabilities and legacies are paid) receive much less than you had hoped.
How do I review my Will?
You should always seek the advice of a professional who will ensure changes to your Will are carried out properly. Do not make your own handwritten changes to the Will as you will risk invalidating the Will and dying intestate.
If you would like to discuss reviewing your Will then do not hesitate to contact one of our Wills and Probate Team at Josiah Hincks Solicitors.
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