Wills are things that people take ages getting around to doing so why bother reviewing it?
When Wills are written, a good Will Writer will do their best to future proof it. They do this for example by including any wedding plans or children even if they’ve not arrived yet.
However, they’re not fortune tellers and our circumstances change over time so we would recommend your Will is reviewed regularly.
However many times you marry, marriage (including same-sex marriages) will cancel your Will. This means that when your die your estate will be distributed according to that pesky 1925 Act again. However, if you know that you are getting married in the near future then this can be included in the Will allowing it to remain valid.
Separation prior to Divorce
Until you receive your Decree Absolute then your Will remains valid. You need to ask yourself whether you are still happy with the way your estate is distributed now you are separated. If you don’t have a Will then your estate will be distributed according to the 1925 Act so will likely go to the person that you’re separated from!
From the date of the Decree Absolute, your Will isn’t cancelled but your ex-spouse is treated as if they had died. Additionally, if you appointed your ex as an executor this clause will also be cancelled. This may not be what you intended and could leave you without an executor.
When we have children we naturally want to make sure that they are cared for should the worst happen. This isn’t just financial but you should really decide who will look after them when you can’t. You should choose a Guardian who will look after the children and bring them up in the way you would like. Don’t leave it to the courts.
A child cannot inherit until 18 at the earliest so someone needs to look after any money left to them and how it is used, if at all. These people are your Trustees and have a huge responsibility to manage the finances in the best interests of your children. To do this you should choose your Trustees wisely and leave them a non-binding “letter of wishes” which will help the guardian make decisions in the way you would make them.
As well as your own children, when grandchildren begin appearing, you may wish to make them a specific gift. You could set up a trust for them, maybe to help with their education.
Receiving an inheritance, whether from your own parents or a relative, alters your financial position. This could affect any previous Inheritance Tax (IHT) planning of your own, meaning a review of your Will may have to happen again.
Change in financial circumstances
Perhaps you’ve got a great new job or your own business is doing exceptionally well. Who will look after your business? Is your inheritance planning still working?
Ensure that any specific gifts are still relevant. You may have lost touch with that best mate you are leaving a sizeable cash gift to, or lost that gold ring you were leaving your daughter.
Are all your beneficiaries, executors and trustees still alive? Are they still able to perform these essential but demanding roles?
A Change in Law
You never know, the Government might raise the Inheritance Tax threshold. This might affect your estate planning.
We would recommend reviewing your Will every three years and probably more regularly to check that it still reflects what you want.
If you don’t have a Will or you’ve been affected by any of these changes then please get in touch. We’re regulated by the Society of Will Writers so can be trusted to give you the right advice for your needs.