Kloarba Dema of our Private Client Team reviews the circumstances and timing for reviewing your Will.
You have finally signed your Will and crossed this off your ever growing ‘to do’ list. Whilst it may be tempting to forget about your Will for some years, it is strongly advisable that you revisit your Will every five years, or sooner, in the event that you experience major changes in your circumstances. This may be the case in some of the following scenarios:
Divorce or dissolution of civil partnership
Divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership does not in itself render your Will invalid. Instead, the law treats your former spouse or civil partner as having predeceased you. This, however, only takes effect when the “decree absolute” or “dissolution order” has been granted by the Court. As it may take a considerable amount of time to obtain a decree absolute or dissolution order (often years), a failure to update your Will during this period would leave your estate exposed to being inherited by your former spouse or civil partner if you die before your divorce or civil partnership is formally finalised.
Following your divorce or dissolution of your civil partnership you may find that some provisions in your Will are no longer in accordance with your current wishes – are some of the beneficiaries your former in-laws? If you no longer wish your former in-laws to benefit from your estate you will need to consider updating your Will.
Marriage or civil partnership
On a happier note, another life event that effects your existing Will is marriage or entering a civil partnership. This causes your current Will to be automatically revoked and, in the absence of a new Will being put in place, it will result in the statutory intestacy rules determining how your estate will be distributed on your death, which may not necessarily be in accordance with your wishes. This can be prevented if your Will is updated immediately following your marriage or, if you are contemplating marriage or entering into a civil partnership at the time of your Will, a suitable clause being included stating that the Will was made in contemplation of marriage or civil partnership.
Often with marriage or civil partnership comes a new home. Maybe you are simply purchasing your first property, or your last. Whatever your reasons or your circumstances, you may wish to make specific provision for the property to pass to named beneficiaries rather than falling into your residuary estate. Should this be the case, your Will should be amended to reflect your wishes.
You should be aware that your children do not automatically benefit under your Will and so you should consider revising your Will on the birth of your first child to ensure that your children are sufficiently provided for. Importantly, the Will also provides a good opportunity for you to appoint legal guardians for your children should both parents die before the children attain the age of eighteen.
Change in executors circumstances
As the years go by circumstances change and you may find that your executor is no longer able to act, or maybe unwilling to do so. It is important that your appointed executors are able and willing to deal with the administration of your estate in the event of your death. Should there be a change in the circumstances of one or more executors, a failure to update your Will may result in administrative delays on your death and give rise to potential complications, thereby resulting in further expenses for the estate.
For initial advice or to arrange a meeting with one of our team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact 020 7631 4141 and ask to speak to one of the Private Client team.
The above is accurate as at 19th August 2020. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.
The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case by case basis.