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Which life milestones should act as a reminder to update your Will?

It is always a good idea to review and update your Will when your personal circumstances change, and our Private Wealth Solicitor, Shanade Smith, outlines in this article certain life-changing events that should prompt a review of your Will.

It can feel like a big achievement to make a Will. It requires a lot of thought and consideration, and this can cause people to put off making one. Studies show that around just over half of adults do not have a Will. For those who have successfully made their Will, it is important to review your Will periodically to ensure that it remains valid and still accurately captures your wishes.

1. Following marriage

Upon marriage, any previous Will you have made will be automatically 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 your estate will pass under the Rules of Intestacy which may lead to your estate not passing where you would have intended.

There is the ability to include a clause in your Will which outlines that your Will should remain valid after your marriage. However, this can only be used if you are identifying your future spouse in your Will, and it is not a blanket clause that can be included to cover any future marriage.

2. During divorce

If you are thinking about getting divorced or are in the process of divorcing, it is essential that you review your Will. If you die before finalising your divorce and your Will still leaves assets to your spouse, then your spouse would still inherit under you Will, which may not be what you want.

3. Following divorce

After divorce, your existing Will remains legally valid, but your former spouse will be treated as having predeceased you. This means that your former spouse will not inherit under your estate, but this can still cause complications for the following reasons:

  • If you have left a share of your estate to your former spouse, this will be omitted as they are treated as having predeceased you. If your Will does not specify what should happen to this failed share, then this can cause issues as to how your estate should pass and may again lead to the Rules of Intestacy applying.

  • If you named your former spouse as your sole executor, then this could also leave you without a named executor to act under your Will to administer your estate.

Making a new Will after divorce allows you to ensure that your estate passes in accordance with your wishes i.e., for the benefit of your children or new partner. 

4. Following a birth

You should review your Will on the birth of any children/grandchildren to ensure that they have been factored into your Will, i.e., that they are included in your list of beneficiaries. If you have made reference to your children/grandchildren individually by name, rather than collectively as ‘children/grandchildren’ then they will not be included in your Will, which may not be what you intend.

Your Will can also outline who you would like to appoint as legal guardians for your children, who will be responsible for their care, until they reach the age of 18.

5. Following a death

You should review your Will following the death of someone you have named in your Will (either as executor or beneficiary). It is important to ensure that your Will outlines what should happen to the share of your estate 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.

It is also important to review your Will following any changes to the inheritance tax rules as your Wills could be updated to be more tax efficient. We recommend that you review your Will every 5 years as a minimum to ensure that it still reflects your current objectives. 

If you would like a Will review, or any advice about preparing a new Will, then please contact Shanade (Shanade.smith@bpe.co.uk 01242 248221) or a member of the Private Wealth team who will be able to help you.  

 

These notes have been prepared for the purpose of articles only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.

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