5 reasons you may want to review your will
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As time passes, your personal circumstances and those of the people around you change, and so too will the provisions you want to make in relation to your legacy.
Although your solicitor will encourage you to consider eventualities that are likely to occur in the future at the time you make your Will, this will only ever be a snapshot of your circumstances at any one time.
As such, it is advisable that you review your Will throughout your lifetime. Advice given on the Government website suggests that you review your Will at least every five years. There are a number of reasons you may want to do this, as described below.
Changes in legislation
You may have made certain decisions in relation to the division of your assets to account for tax laws at the time you made your Will. However, legislation changes from time to time and what may once have made sense from a tax efficiency perspective may now no longer be the best solution. For example, since 2007, unused inheritance tax nil-rate band allowances can be transferred between estates of married couples and civil partners. Similarly, changes to the treatment of a main residence in relation to Inheritance Tax are on the way from April 2017 and may alter the way you wish to divide your estate.
Changes to personal views
Over time our views and feelings can and do change and what may once have been a reflection of your wishes may now not concur with your current way of thinking. Events in life may have brought you closer to an individual than you were previously, so much so that you may want to make a provision for them in the future. Similarly, you or a loved one may have benefited from the help of a charity and might want to give thanks by way of leaving a donation in your Will.
Additions to Wills in this way are fairly straightforward and can usually be made by way of making an official alteration called a codicil. Codicils must be signed and witnessed for them to become legal content of a Will.
Major events in life
There are certain events in life that may mean a Will you have made before is no longer appropriate. For example, if you have children or buy a property, you will most likely want to update your Will to reflect the change in circumstances. Alternatively if you become separated or divorced from a named beneficiary in your Will, you may want to amend the provisions you have laid out.
Some people may not realise that certain life events, such as getting married or remarrying, actually revoke your original Will meaning you would need to make a new Will in this eventuality anyway. It is also important to remember that if you are not married but living with a partner, that individual will not stand to inherit anything on your death should you not have made provisions for them in a Will. The same also applies to same sex couples who have not entered into a civil partnership or marriage.
Changes to the circumstances of others
Sadly, it can sometimes happen that beneficiaries named in your Will pass away during your lifetime. In such circumstances, you want to rethink how your assets are divided amongst your remaining beneficiaries. If the named executor in your Will dies you will need to amend this in order to avoid the State deciding who will be the administrator of your estate.
In this day and age, it is also important to take into account the make-up of modern families. When people remarry it is not uncommon for families to consist of children from previous relationships as well as those from the new relationship. This can create friction between the couple as although they will want to provide for each other, each individual will likely want to make provisions for their own blood relatives. It is important to take into account every eventuality. Both partners may wish to make Wills that consider all the children involved irrespective of which partner dies first.
Your assets may have changed
If you no longer own specific assets previously gifted in your Will or have acquired new ones since your Will was written or last altered, a new Will should be made. For example you may have moved house, or disposed of assets referred to in your existing Will.
For further advice in relation to revising or making a Will, please contact our specialist team of Wills Trusts and Probate solicitors.