They say time is a great healer, which can be very true. But as time passes by, circumstances can change and people change. It’s no different to writing your Will.
At the time you made your Will everything was exactly how you wanted it to be – your assets were divided up as you’d requested, and the people that mattered to you most all stood to benefit when your time was finally up.
However, many people write their Will, forget about it and never review this valuable document. But significant life events can change everything – an unexpected illness, or even death, may render your Will inappropriate or even invalid.
If your Will is no longer accurate or up to date this could cause real problems, adding unnecessary worry and stress to your loved ones when you die. It could even leave them without the means to cope financially or, worse still, nothing at all.
Recommended time frame for updating a Will
Even without any significant life changes, it’s advisable to review your Will every five years, ensuring your wishes are reflected. It’s also a good idea to check for any recent changes to the law that may affect your Will.
2017 Inheritance Tax changes
These changes have affected the Wills of many people, even though their overall wishes remained the same. It meant that the total inheritance tax threshold for those who own a family home increased from April 6, 2017 until it reaches £500,000 by 2020. So married couples and civil partners are able to pass on assets worth up to £1 million, including a family home, completely free of Inheritance Tax from April 2020.
What life changes could affect the wishes detailed in my Will?
Significant events should prompt you to review your Will and seek professional advice from a qualified Paralegal. These could include:
- New Grandchildren
You’re new grandchild means the world to you, right? So you’re going to want to include them.
- Just got married?
When you tie the knot, it cancels any Will you have made before. Assuming your other half is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with (if not, time for a rethink!), then you’re going to need your Will amended.
- Separated or Divorced?
Although this doesn’t automatically cancel a previous Will, it’s probably a good idea to review your wishes and ensure they are up to date.
- Moving house
You may have downsized and released some equity, or perhaps you want to set up a trust fund for your grandchildren. Either way, it’s worth asking your Paralegal the question.
- An executor named in the Will dies
They may no longer even be a suitable executor for you as time goes by. That’s why we always recommend having more than one executor named when you die.
- Someone named in your Will dies before you
If this happens you’ll want to review the gift you intended to be left to the deceased beneficiary and decide what should happen to that gift in the event of your death.
Right, I want to make some changes to my Will – but how do I go about it?
Law states that you’re not allowed to amend your Will after it is signed and witnessed. Instead, you have to make an official alteration called a codicil. A codicil must be signed and witnessed in the same way as you would have done for the original Will, although you don’t need to have the same witnesses.
There are no limits to how many codicils you can add to a Will, but the more changes you make, the more difficult your Will becomes to interpret. It may save you some cash but it’s not the best way to update your Will.
Forget updating it – should I just make a new Will?
For significant changes to your circumstances, we recommend that a new Will is written for you instead of using codicils. Writing a new Will is easier to administer when you die, and it is tidier having one document stating your wishes. It is also well worth reading our blog post on common mistakes in a Will to ensure you do not create any additional problems further down the line.
I know what I want, but I need help writing my Will
We’ll be only too happy to help! If you’re looking to make changes to an existing Will, or even creating your first Will, Wills & Legal Services can help. We are a national Specialist Paralegal Law Firm specialising in Estate Planning and associated services.
Take the first step in securing your wishes today by getting in touch with us by calling 01885 490380.