We all understand the importance of writing a will in order to protect our loved ones and express our wishes as to what we want to happen when we die. Once this is signed and sealed, we tend to think that it is another job done and we no longer need to worry about it, but it is something that you should revisit from time to time.
Over the years, you might find that your circumstances change, and so it can be a good idea to review your will. You can look at it to check that you are still happy with the arrangements or add and take things away according to where you now find yourself in life. In this article, we take a look at some of the reasons why it might be time to review your will, and what changes need to be made.
At the time that you first wrote your will, you may not have had children, or you may have thought that you were not going to have any more. However, we all know that things can change and so if you now have more children in your life than you did when you wrote your will, you might want to review it in order to make sure that they are included.
It may also be the case that you now have grandchildren in your life that you want to make provision for in your will. Whilst you might tell your children that you want certain things to be passed onto your grandchildren, it is important that you make sure this is stipulated in writing.
Marriage or divorce
If you made a will before you got married, then it will be automatically revoked when you do tie the knot, making it invalid. That means that you will need to review your will once you are married and stipulate what you would like to leave your spouse if anything.
Once you get divorced, it is highly likely that you will want to make some changes to your will. The law does not automatically revoke your will when you divorce, so you need to make sure that you alter things yourself to remove your spouse as a beneficiary or executor if you wish to.
Sadly, people that we name in our wills can pass away before us, and so you will need to amend things if that happens. If they were an executor, then you will need to make sure that another one is named in their place, and if you left them a gift, you should state where you now want that to go.
A few years down the line, you might find that you are better or worse off than you were when you made the will, and this might affect what you want it to say, particularly if you now own things that were not considered or if you no longer have the finances to fulfil what you have left to people.
If you have started a business, you should also include what will happen to this. You should not just think about the size and type of gifts that you leave, but also any potential inheritance tax (IHT) situations that you might leave behind. A lawyer will be able to advise you on what the tax implications might be and how you can best manage this.
You should update your will whenever you buy or sell a property. As this is likely to be the biggest financial asset that you own, it can have a massive impact on the size of the estate that you leave behind. You should make sure that you review your will so that it reflects your current property status.
Your will is not just about finances, but also who you would like to take care of your children should anything happen to you before they reach the age of 18. If you have named a guardian in your will, you may need to change this should the relationship with them break down or if they become ill and can no longer take on the commitment of looking after your children. It is important that you make it clear where you want your children to live after you die in order to ensure that they are properly cared for in the way that you would want.
Time has passed
If you wrote your will a long time ago, then it is definitely time to review it. You may not remember all of the details within it, so checking it can highlight some important points that you need to amend. Ideally, you should review your will every 3 to 5 years to make sure that it is still current and a fair and correct reflection of your wishes.
Inheritance tax (IHT)
We know that both death and taxes are a certainty, and with your death, there could be more taxes. When you write a will, a lawyer will advise you on the potential IHT implications for those that you leave behind. However, if the rules or thresholds on IHT change, then you should probably look at changing your will too. Reviewing it with the help of a lawyer can ensure that you have taken everything into consideration.
As with any legal document, it is important to make sure that everything in your will is correct and valid. You should therefore seek the help of a lawyer who can help you to write your changes and make any suggestions that you might not have considered.
There are no limits to the number of changes that you can make to your will, so give it some careful thought to make sure that all of your current situations have been covered. Any changes will also need to be signed and witnessed in the way that your original will was to ensure that it is legal and valid.
How do I update my will?
Once you have reviewed your will and decide changes need to be made you can do this by either making a codicil or making a brand new will. A codicil is used to alter a will if one or only a few minor and non-complex changes need to be made. Making a codicil can be more efficient than creating a whole new will. You can make your document using our Codicil. For more information, read Codicils.
If you want or need to make a brand new will, you can do so using our Last will and testament for England and Wales or for Scotland.
For more information on making wills, read Making your will and Reasons to make a will and Ask a lawyer if you have any questions or concerns. If you wish to have a bespoke will or codicil drafted, consider using our Will and codicil writing service.
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