Our circumstances are always changing and family dynamics are as diverse as ever in our modern world. An individual’s will should plan for this, especially regarding provisions for partners, cohabitees, financial dependents, step-children and adopted children.
Our Private Client Solicitors suggest that individuals review and update their will every five years or specifically if there are any life changing events or changes which may have inheritance tax implications.
- Marriage or Civil Partnership – if you get married or enter a civil partnership, your previous will is automatically revoked. This should trigger yourself and your new partner to review and update your wills to reflect your new circumstances
- If you have children – have you planned ahead in your will to include any future children you may have? Most will not have considered this so becoming a parent is a time when your will should be reviewed or drafted to ensure provision for your children in line with your wishes. Have you considered guardian clauses? If you do not have someone appointed as a legal guardian for your minor children, in the event of your death it could be your children have to go into care until arrangements have been put in place. Appointing legal guardians gives parents peace of mind knowing provisions are in place immediately after death for their chosen close friend or family member to act as a legal guardian for their minor children
- If you get divorced, become separated or suffer the break up of a relationship – look at updating your will to ensure your wishes, and beneficiaries, are up-to-date and correct
- Perhaps due to circumstances you are disinheriting a family member (i.e. cutting out one child from your will). This will need to be updated in your will
- If you sell or move home – this is important if you have provisions in your will in respect of life interests and you forget to own your new home as Tenants in Common. If you had previously set up a life interest in your Will, and owned your previous property as Tenants in Common, if you moved home and the ownership automatically was set up as Joint Tenants instead, your life interest in your Will may no longer be valid in respect of your new property. This is something you should review if you are unsure if your life interest has transferred to your new property
- If your assets drastically change, or either increase or decrease in value – you may have an unexpected inheritance tax liability you did not plan for
- Do any gifts which you have stipulated in the will still reflect your current wishes? Perhaps you nominated to leave £,1000 to every grandchild but have not reviewed your will for 20 years and now you have 20 grandchildren!
- If you have ties with a charitable organisation and want to include a legacy gift for them that is not currently in your will. There can be inheritance tax benefits tied to charitable giving which can be worth considering
- In the event one of your appointed Executors or Beneficiaries pass away, you should review your Will to ensure you have a replacement Executor or Beneficiary in place otherwise your Will should be updated
- If you have fallen out with an Executive or Beneficiary. Do you still want to include them? Or should you nominate a replacement?
- If your Executors are no longer able to act for you (for example if they have moved away, become ill or become incapacitated)
Read more: Can you help me write my will?