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This article was published on July 12th, 2022
A will is a powerful legal document and most of us understand the importance of creating one, however, it is less common to know when you should update it. If you have created a will, you will probably need to update it at some point in your lifetime, after all, life is constantly changing.
If you have written a will, you should update it after significant life events occur, if you don’t, your will may be deemed invalid and it can cause unnecessary stress for your loved ones when you die.
Generally, it is suggested that you should review your will every five years to ensure that your wishes are still reflected accurately. However, you must update it after every major life event including a marriage or separation, the birth of a child or grandchild, the loss of a relative or spouse, or a change in your financial circumstances.
If you have created a will before your marriage and you live in England or Wales, it will be automatically revoked once you are officially married. The same applies if you have entered into a civil partnership. However, there is an exception to this if your will already states that you are entering into a marriage or civil partnership and that you intend for it to remain valid.
If you created your will whilst you were married, your ex-spouse is likely listed as the beneficiary. Your current will remains valid; however, your ex-spouse will be treated as if they have died and if your will doesn’t specify what should happen in the event of their death, the rules of intestacy may apply. Therefore, to ensure that your will still accurately reflects your wishes, you should update it upon the breakdown of your relationship.
If you have a child your will is not automatically updated to include them, therefore if you want your child to be named as a beneficiary you will have to update it.
If someone who is a beneficiary in your will dies, you should check to see if your will provides alternative arrangements for that person’s portion of your inheritance. You’ll need to look over your will to see who your estate will instead go to. You can add anyone else to your will who you want to inherit a portion of your estate.
If your financial situation has changed since you made your will, you should update it. For example, you have left gifts in your will that you no longer have, or you may have given beneficiaries monetary amounts but no longer have the funds to pay them. Alternatively, your estate’s worth may have increased, necessitating guidance and planning.
When it comes to updating your will, you cannot just make changes to an existing will because those changes are presumed to have been made after the will was signed and therefore do not constitute part of the original legally binding will.
The only way to lawfully amend a will is to either make a codicil to an existing will or to create an entirely new one.
Above are just some of the reasons why you should update your will. Whether you are creating your first will or are looking for advice when it comes to updating it, we can help.
At Thorneycroft Solicitors, our expert team of Wills, Trust and Probate solicitors have earned a reputation for providing a professional and sympathetic approach to all your estate planning affairs. We understand the complexities that can arise when writing a will which is why we take the time to understand your specific circumstances and the importance of safeguarding the financial security of your family.
For more information and advice, contact our team of Wills, Trust and Probate solicitors today. If you would like to learn more about our Probate, Lasting Power of Attorney or Estate Planning services click here.