A Will is a pivotal legal document that ensures your assets and belongings are distributed according to your wishes after your passing.
However, as life changes, so do your circumstances and relationships, so it’s crucial to keep your Will updated. Think of it as a ‘living document’.
This blog discusses the importance of updating your Will, when, and how.
Changing Life Circumstances
The first scenario of when it’s appropriate to change your Will is after significant changes to your life circumstances and those of your beneficiaries.
- Family Dynamics: Major events like marriage, divorce, or the birth or adoption of children and grandchildren can drastically change family dynamics. It’s essential to update your Will to reflect these changes to ensure your assets are distributed according to your current family structure.
- Death of a Beneficiary or Executor: If a beneficiary or an executor named in your Will passes away, you must revise your Will. This ensures that your estate is managed and distributed by someone capable and whom you trust and your assets are received by someone that you have chosen.
Secondly, it’s wise to change or update your Will after significant asset changes, such as:
- Acquisition or Loss of Significant Assets: Acquiring or losing new assets such as property, investments or valuable personal items necessitates updating your Will. This ensures that all your assets are included in your estate plan and allocated according to your most recent intentions.
- Changes in Asset Value: Significant fluctuations in the value of your assets, such as property appreciation or depreciation, should also prompt a review of your Will to ensure equitable distribution.
Tax and Regulation Changes
Core inheritance tax regulations have remained fixed for many years. Still, changes to the regulations, including the tax threshold and reliefs available, should prompt a reassessment of your Will.
This will ensure that your estate is distributed tax-efficiently and that you take advantage of new methods to lower the tax bill through reliefs and gifting.
How to Update Your Will
So, how do you go about updating or changing your Will?
- Making Minor Changes: For minor changes, such as adding a beneficiary, you can use a supplement document called a codicil. This document is signed and witnessed like a Will but is explicitly used for minor amendments.
- Major Revisions: It’s often better to make a new Will for substantial changes. This ensures clarity and avoids legal disputes or confusion.
- Seeking Professional Advice: Solicitors can provide formal advice on updating your Will, ensuring that your amendments are legally sound and reflect your current wishes.
- Keeping It Accessible: Ensure your executor or a trusted person knows where your updated Will is stored. This will smooth the probate process.
As your circumstances change throughout life, you’ll likely need to update or change your Will several times.
While updating it maybe appropriate for smaller changes, others might require you to make a new will.
Collaborating with Will and probate specialists can help ensure your Will meets your current and future requirements.
Batt Broadbent offers solicitors for the elderly and others who need to update or change their will. Contact us to see how we can help you.