Making a Will is one of the most important steps you can take in your life to manage your affairs. Your Will allows you to decide what happens to your assets, namely your money, property, investments and other possessions after you have died.
Many people believe that once they have made their Will they can just forget about it. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case. There are many instances in people’s lives when it makes sense to review their Wills. In fact, it makes sense for you to review your Will every 5 years or after any major change in your life to make sure it reflects your changed circumstances. Let us look at some of the life events which should prompt you to re-examine your Will.
1. New Additions to the Family – It is important that you review your will when your family has grown following the birth of your child. This is especially so for new parents who will need to appoint guardians for their children. Guardians will look after your minor children after both parents have died. The best place to appoint them is in your Will. Equally, grandparents may consider setting up trusts for their grandchildren or leaving them a gift in their own Wills.
2. Separation and Divorce – It comes as a surprise to many people that a divorce does not revoke your Will entirely. However, your ex-wife/husband or ex-civil partner is regarded to have died on the day the divorce was pronounced or the civil partnership annulled. Therefore, if you appointed your ex-wife/husband or ex-civil partner as your executor in your Will, they will no longer be able to act in this capacity. Equally, if you left them a gift in your Will, that gift will fail too. Consequently, you need to appoint new executors and look at how else you want to distribute your estate. The other side of the coin on this point for many is that, however traumatic the divorce might have been, they remarry, and this actually revokes their previous Will. The result is that with combined families and possibly children on both sides from previous relationships, it really does mean that you must think hard about how your estates will be divided up on death. It is important to get the right advice.
3. Relocation – Countries have their own specific rules on how your estate passes down to your family. Therefore, if you have moved from another part of the world, or even from Ireland or Scotland, to live in England you need to review your Will. Your Irish, Scottish or foreign Will may not necessarily be valid in the UK.
4. Increased wealth – You may come into money through various means, such as winning the national lottery or being left a large sum of money by family or friends. This will increase your personal estate and affect the amount of inheritance tax your estate will have to pay. You can mitigate this liability to tax by taking a fresh look at your Will and planning your estate.
5. Changes in the law – The law is never constant. Each new change to the law may have implications for the amount of tax payable on your estate. Therefore, regular Will reviews are essential to make sure that your Will is up to date and makes the best use of your estate for the benefit of your family.
There are many more reasons why you should review your Will frequently. If your circumstances have changed and you need to review your Will, please contact me Sangeeta Moore at Lyndales Solicitors on 020 7391 1030.