Updating Your Will
Once you have written your Will, it’s important that you don’t just forget about it altogether. You’ll need to think about updating your Will throughout your lifetime in accordance with major life events and changes in circumstances.
We will now talk you through the key times when changing your Will is most important, and the ways in which you can do this.
When to Update Your Will
- Every 5-years - Firstly, it is said that you should review your Will every 5 years, even without any major life changes. This is just to make sure that your Will still aligns with your wishes at the current time.
- Marriage - Getting married simply revokes any Will you have previously made. You will need to make a new Will now that you are married.
- Separated or Divorced – On the contrary to the previous point, it’s also crucial that you make changes to your Will if you end up getting divorced. Unlike getting married, a divorce does not automatically revoke your existing Will. Getting divorced will most likely change what you want to happen to your possessions and property when you pass away. The chances are you probably left your assets to your spouse. It may be that you still want these to pass to your former spouse (or you may want to remove all reference to them altogether). Either way, you will need to update your Will. The Wills Act states that, following divorce, a Will is read as though your former spouse has died before you, meaning that, unless you have a clause to the contrary, your Will, following your divorce, will be read as though your former spouse had died before you and they will not receive anything.
- Having Children or Grandchildren – Most people want to ensure that their children or grandchildren inherit some money or possessions upon their death. If you wish for this to happen, you have to specify in your Will that you want them to benefit. Sometimes people assume that their children will just automatically gain ownership of things when they pass away, but this isn’t always the case, especially when no Will is in place and rules of intestacy apply. So, as and when you have a child or a grandchild, you may want to update your Will to reflect your new desires for them to inherit something from your estate.
- Death of Executor – If the person you have named as the Executor of your Will (the person who you have chosen to deal with the administration of your estate) passes away, this could be a good time to update your Will. If there is no Executor appointed in your Will on your death, the residuary beneficiaries would be entitled to administer your Estate. This might not be what you had wanted, or them. A way to prepare for this potential issue is also to name more than one Executor, just in case one of them does pass away or, for any reason, is no longer able to deal with your Estate.
- Moving House – Buying your first house is an especially good time to write your first ever Will. This is because the house will now most likely be your biggest and most valuable asset. Therefore, if you were to pass away and no Will was in place to show what you would want to happen to your new house, it could be passed on to people you wouldn’t have chosen, or be otherwise dealt with in a way you wouldn’t have liked. Even if you’re not a first-time buyer and have written a Will before, you should consider updating your Will every time you move to a new house or buy an additional property. It’s important that your Will details who you want the ownership of your property to pass on to and how you want it to pass.
- Death of Someone Named in the Will – We’ve mentioned the death of an Executor, but updating your Will is also important when someone else named in the Will dies, such as a beneficiary. The Will should be altered in accordance with what you want to happen with the gift that you left for the now-deceased beneficiary.
How to Update Your Will
Changing your Will with a Codicil
You cannot just alter your Will once it has been signed and witnessed. What you need to do is make an official alteration, known as a Codicil.
A Codicil is a new document, independent of your Will, that allows you to make slight changes without having to write a whole new Will.
Writing a Codicil can sometimes be a cheaper option to writing a new Will, but writing a new Will may be the easier or neater option, especially if you end up changing your mind several times.
For more substantial and fundamental changes, it is usually advisable to write a new Will.
Writing a New Will
If the changes you want to make to your Will are substantial, it is a good idea to write a new Will. This way, there is just one document to deal with, rather than all additional Codicils you may have created.
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