When (and how often) should we review our Wills?
The short answer is, every five years or so, and after any significant change in your life.
Five years is a good rule of thumb to check your Will is in line with current legislation. In recent years the government introduced major changes in Inheritance Tax law. This caused some of our clients to amend their Wills, even though their wishes remain the same.
Seek professional advice on your Will if the following changes happen in your lifetime:-
* New children or grandchildren. If you have step children you need to take extra care. A reference to children and grandchildren in your Will does not include step children or step grandchildren.
* Marriage or Civil Partnership. Both automatically revokes a Will, unless the Will is in contemplation of the said events.
* Divorce. In your Will, after a divorce, your ex–spouse would be treated as having predeceased you. It is important to check if you have substitute provisions, and if so, whether you are happy with them.
* A death of a beneficiary or an executor, or a change in your relationship with them.
* The financial and personal circumstances of your beneficiary changes. For instance, if they a recipient of means tested benefits, you could consider a Trust.
* A change in your financial circumstances. I.e. if you are due to receive a large inheritance. You should contemplate actions to reduce your Estate's Inheritance Tax liability.
* If you have moved house or anticipate doing so in near future. You may have bequeathed your current property as a gift. Gifts could fail if you have given away or sold the gift in your lifetime, or if the beneficiary predeceases you. You should check your Will to make sure that your gift does not fail.
The best way of updating a Will is writing a new Will.
You can amend a Will via a Codicil. However it is uncommon to do so nowadays due to advances in computing and word processing. Nonetheless codicils have to be executed and arranged in the same manner as Wills. It is more tidier and straightforward to have only one document setting out your wishes.
You can take the first step towards reviewing or creating your will today, by getting in touch with us.