WPM: The importance of reviewing your Will on a regular basis
Congratulations, you’ve made your Will, which is the crucial first step in ensuring that your estate is inherited by those you intend. However, it is important that you keep your Will under review and don’t simply file it away and forget about it.
You should review your Will whenever your circumstances change or at least every 3 years regardless.
There are various ‘life events’ that may require you to update your Will:
- Change in relationship status:
- marriage/civil partnership – if you marry or enter into a civil partnership, your Will is automatically revoked (unless it includes a clause to say that you have made it in contemplation of that marriage or civil partnership). You therefore need to make a new Will, or the intestacy rules will apply on your death.
- divorce/dissolving civil partnership – your current Will remains valid but your former spouse/civil partner is treated as if they died on the date that the marriage or civil partnership was dissolved. This could be problematic if you have not made provision in the Will for who will inherit in this scenario.
- Separation – if you separate but have not yet divorced or dissolved the relationship you spouse/civil partner will still benefit from any gifts you have left them in your Will and if named as executor, would still be entitled to administer your estate on your death. Depending on your ongoing relationship with them, you may wish to update your Will.
It may not just be a change in your own relationship that causes you to review your Will – changes in your beneficiaries’ circumstances could also cause you concern, for example if one of your children marries someone financially irresponsible, or is in a rocky relationship at risk of breakdown. In these scenarios, you may wish to explore the option of trusts within your Will, to protect any inheritance that child would receive.
- Births and deaths:
- Children/grandchildren – you should review your Will when new family members are born to ensure that all those who you wish to inherit will do so. If your children or grandchildren are mentioned by name in your Will, you may need to update it if you wish to include new arrivals.
- Executors/legatees/residuary beneficiaries – if anyone named in your Will dies, it should be reviewed to ensure that it still functions properly, whether you have specified substitute provisions to deal with the death of this person and that your estate has been fully disposed of and there won’t be a partial intestacy.
- Change in financial circumstances:
- when you retire, you may find that you start spending, rather than accumulating money, and the value of your estate may decrease. It is important to keep your Will under review regularly, particularly to ensure that any cash legacies are still appropriate and proportionate.
- if you inherit assets on the death on a parent and the value of your estate increases. If receiving the inheritance significantly alters the value of your estate, you may need to review your Will to ensure that it is tax efficient.
- Property sale/purchase:
- If you own a property as tenants in common, what happens to your share of that property on your death, is determined by your Will. If the property is not specifically mentioned, it will form part of your residuary estate. You should therefore review your Will to ensure that your share of the property will end up where you want it to.
- you may need to review your Will if you have specifically gifted and named a property within the Will, which you no longer own. You may need to check or amend the Will if you wish for the gift to apply to a replacement property that you have purchased.
- Changes in the law: – if you hear of any changes to inheritance laws, this should prompt you to review your Will. For example, many clients have reviewed their Wills since the residence nil rate band (for inheritance tax) was introduced in 2017, to ensure that the provisions of their Wills allow them to take full advantage of all inheritance tax allowances.
To review your Will or for advice on how changes in your circumstances could impact it, please contact your usual Wealth Preservation team member.
This update is for general purposes and guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should seek legal advice before relying on its content. This update relates to the prevailing circumstances at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments. If you have general queries about our updates, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org