Very few people enjoy making their Will – it can be an unwelcome reminder of our own mortality. But peace of mind comes from knowing that you have made a properly drafted Will.
Once you have made your Will, it is very important to review it regularly to ensure that it still reflects your current intentions and that there have been no changes in your circumstances or new tax rules introduced that might have unforeseen effects.
An experienced wills solicitor will often recommend that you review your Will every 3–5 years – this can be a chance for a general assessment of your financial affairs too. In addition to a regular review of your will and financial affairs every few years, most solicitors also recommend the need for a new Will if any of the following events happen:
Your Will is automatically revoked if you get married unless it is stated to be in contemplation of a specific marriage – so you will need to make a new one.
This is just as important as marrying for the first time as there are often children by previous relationships and the division of property and assets on death needs to be carefully thought out. Getting the right advice on second marriage saves a lot of problems later on.
Any gifts to spouses in a Will are automatically revoked on divorce but it still makes sense to review your Will before the divorce is finalised. If you should die before your divorce is finalised then your about to be ex spouse could still inherit from your estate. Making a will at the start of divorce proceeds is strongly recommended.
Birth of a child/grandchild
If you have recently become a parent, you need to consider the appointment of Guardians who will have responsibility for bringing up your children in the event of you or your partner’s death. You may also want to ensure that the child is included as a beneficiary of the Will. Grandparents may want to make a specific provision for their grandchildren.
Mental Incapacity of an Executor
You may be surprised to hear that a Will remains valid even if none of your chosen executors are still alive but it is always better to ensure that trusted family friends or professionals have been appointed to act. Experienced solicitors, in particular, are common choices for executors.
Death of a Beneficiary
This may require changes to your Will, for example if you wish to benefit someone else in place of the deceased person.
Not making a will is a false economy – it can lead to the payment of unnecessary inheritance tax, and worst of all can lead to lasting and bitter arguments between family and friends caused by contesting a will. The price of a basic will give you peace of mind and the ability to control who gets your assets when you pass on.
Nobody likes to think about dying. But death, like taxation, is unavoidable. If you care about what will happen to your assets when you die, and you wish to make a proper provision for your loved ones, then you should ensure that you have a valid and up to date Will.