| Do you have a will in place at the moment?
If so, can you remember the last time this was updated? Or indeed, has you ever updated your will since it was originally drafted and signed? This can be many years down the line.
If this applies to you, you are not alone. Many people complete and sign their wills and put them in a safe place and forget all about them.
If your current will is not accurate, or up to date, this could cause problems. This could add unnecessary worry and stress on to your loved ones when you pass away.
| How often should I update my will?
I advise my clients to update your will after any significant life changes. For example, marriage, divorce, having new children, or having new grandchildren are just some of the reasons why you should consider updating your will.
Even without significant life changes it is also important, and advisable, to update your will every five years. This is to ensure that your wishes are protected, or that they haven’t changed since your will was originally drafted and signed.
A lot can change over the years, and so is now the right time to review and update your will?
| Significant life changes that could affect your will
- Marriage – Marriage cancels any will you have previously signed. If you have got married since you signed your will, your current will will become null and void. This means that you will need to make amendments to your will and possibly make a brand new will.
- Divorce or separation – Divorce does not cancel your will. However, it does make any provisions that you have made for an ex-spouse under your will null and void. It is always advisable to make amendments to an existing will, or to make a brand new will all together after a divorce or separation.
- New children – You may have made and signed your will prior to you having any children. This may mean that your children are not included in your current will. You may also want to include provisions under your will for what is to happen if you were to pass away before your children reached the of 18, and who you would want to look after your children in these circumstances.
- New grandchildren – As above, your will may have been made and signed prior to you having any grandchildren, and now you would like to include them in your will.
- Someone named in your will dies before you – If this happens it is advisable to review and possibly amend your will and consider leaving the gift to an alternative person.
- Your executor dies before you – If this happens, you will want to review and possibly amend your will to appoint a substitute executor in their place. Alternatively, you may find that the executor you have named under your current will is no longer suitable and you wish to change that person. If that happens, you will need to update your will.
- If you have a new partner – Co-habiting couples (people who are partners and not legally married) are not legally entitled to inherit from a person’s estate on their death. Therefore, if your current will does not leave anything to a current partner, and you would like them to receive something, it is advisable to review and update your will to reflect this.
- Moving home – Our homes are usually the most expensive thing we own, so it is important to make provision in your will. Further, if you are downsizing and wish to leave some equity as a gift under your will that was not provided for under your current will, you will need to update your will.
| Things that do not always require you to update your will
Address changes do not invalidate wills.
Address changes for you or your beneficiaries do not always require you to update your will. However, it is a good idea to keep your will as up to date as possible and to store any address changes with your will.
If, however you have specifically left a property to a loved one which you now no longer own, or you have changed how you hold a property, it is advisable to amend your will to either remove this gift, or to change the gift altogether.
| How do I update my current will?
To update your will, you have two options. Firstly, you can make a codicil to your will for slight alterations. These codicils need to be signed and witnessed in the same way that your current will was signed and witnessed. Or, if you want to make significant changes to your will, we recommend that we write a completely new will for you. This will reflect your wishes as at today’s date.
| Free will review
We always advise that you use a solicitor to help you review and update your will.
At Levi Solicitors, we provide a free will review service. At your appointment, we will advise you on the changes that you need to update your will, and the best way to make those changes.