Time to review your Will?

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BPE Shanade Smith

It can feel like a big achievement to make a Will and requires a lot of thought and consideration which can cause people to put off making one.

Studies show that just over half of the adult population do not have a Will. For those who have successfully made their Will, BPE Solicitors explain why it is important to review it to ensure that it remains valid and still accurately captures your wishes.

So when should you review your Will?

  • Following marriage

Upon marriage, any previous Will you have made will be revoked and so you should ensure that you put in place a new Will following your marriage (romantic hey!). If you do not prepare a new Will, then you will die intestate and your estate will pass under the intestacy rules, which may not pass as you had intended. You are able to make a Will in contemplation of your marriage (before you marry) which will remain legally valid once married.

  • Getting divorced

If you are thinking about getting divorced or are in the process of divorcing, it could be essential to change your Will. If you die before finalising your divorce and your Will still leaves assets to your spouse, then they would still inherit under your Will. This would still be the case even if it is widely known to others that you no longer want your spouse to inherit anything.

  • Following divorce

Upon divorce, your existing Will remains legally valid but any gift to your former spouse will be omitted as they are treated as having predeceased you. If your Will does not specify what happens to your estate on your former spouse’s death, then this can cause issues as to how your estate should pass and may again trigger the intestacy rules. If you named your former spouse as your sole executor, then this could also leave you without a named executor to deal with your affairs.

Making a new Will after divorce will allow you to ensure your estate is divided in the way you want i.e. for the benefit of your children or new partner.

  • Following a birth

Your Will should be reviewed on the birth of any children to ensure that they have been factored into your Will. If you have named your children individually by name in your Will, as opposed to using the collective term ‘children’, you will definitely need to review your Will to ensure that they are included as they are not automatically entitled to receive anything. This may also apply to grandchildren, and indeed any other family members.

Your Will also gives you the opportunity to appoint legal guardians who will be responsible for your child’s care, should you die whilst they are under 18.

  • Following a death

Your Will should be reviewed following the death of someone you have named in your Will (either as executor or beneficiary). It is important to ensure that your Will records what should happen to the assets that would have passed to that person. It is also important to review your Will on the death of someone close to you, as this may change your financial position and personal circumstances, which may need to be reflected in your Will.

  • Moving house

It is important that your Will contains a note of your current address. It may be that a file note is placed with your Will to record this and not that your Will needs to be amended itself. However, if your Will mentions a property i.e., gifting that to someone or creating a life interest trust, your Will does need to be reviewed to check that it is not affected by the disposal of the previous property.

  • Change in finances

If, for example, you receive a large sum of inheritance, you should ensure that your Will reflects this change i.e., you may want to increase the value of the legacies in your Will or you may wish to consider setting up a Trust. Similarly, if your financial position diminishes, then you may again need to adjust the value of any gifts in your Will.

  • Change of executor

You can appoint up to four executors in a Will.  You should review your Will on the death of an executor to have them removed and ensure you have someone still appointed. You should also amend your Will if you would like to remove an executor at any time i.e., if you no longer wish for them to act.

Your Will should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that it is still legally valid and accurately captures your wishes. Once written, it is usually very simple to update it for relatively minor changes and does not mean that the whole Will needs to be changed.

To review your Will or for advice on preparing a new Will, contact Shanade Smith (01242 248221 Shanade.smith@bpe.co.uk) or another member of the BPE Private Wealth team.

Full details of the team and the ways we can support you can be found at www.bpe.co.uk/services/team/family/

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