Making a Will is vital. – If you have a Will in place you can be sure that your wishes will be carried out and your loved ones will be secure. It is therefore crucial to ensure your Will is updated following significant life changes so that it continues to reflect your circumstances and wishes.
At Price Slater Gawne, we recommend reviewing your Will every 5 years as a minimum especially when you have been through significant life changes including:
- Marriage or Civil Partnership
- The birth or adoption of a child
- Buying a house or investing in property
- Inheriting monies yourself from a loved one
Marriage or Civil Partnership
Following marriage or civil partnership, any existing Will that you have in place will automatically be revoked and become invalid.
If you do not make a new Will following marriage, in the event of your death, your estate will be divided according to the Intestacy rules, whether this is your wish or not. This usually means that your entire estate will pass to your new husband, wife or civil partner.
In these circumstances, any gifts or requests that you had made in a previous Will would be discounted.
If there are gifts you would like to leave or particular arrangements you would like to put in place, it is essential that you produce a new Will following your nuptials.
A Will made during a marriage does not become invalid or void upon divorce. It might be surprising to learn that any items left to a former partner will be treated as if they had passed away on the date of the Decree Absolute. In the event that you had left your entire estate to your former partner, without a new Will in place, the Intestacy Rules would come into effect, which set out the order of inheritance in order of your closest family members, starting with your children. It is therefore vital that you give due consideration to what you would want to happen to your estate.
It may be that you and your former partner have parted on good terms or that you have children together and therefore you would want your former partner to still inherit or possibly manage the inheritance of your children from your estate. If this is the case, it is important that you produce a new Will to state this wish. If you have a new partner or a new family then this is equally as important.
The Birth or Adoption of a Child
If you have a new baby or adopt a child after writing your Will, your child will not automatically become a beneficiary. Even if you have named your older children as beneficiaries of a Will that was made before this child was born or adopted this child and children after this will not automatically become beneficiaries. If you would like your new child to be a beneficiary, you need to update your Will to reflect this.
In addition – and crucially – If you have parental responsibility for a child, your Will should include instructions regarding appointing a guardian to raise your children in the event you pass away. See our article here which discusses this in more detail
Buying a House
Buying a house, either on your own or as a couple is likely to be one of the biggest purchases you make during your lifetime.
The purchase of a house, whether your first home, your forever home or an additional home as an investment should prompt you to reconsider your assets and your wishes for these.
No matter how much equity you have in a property, this can be left as a gift to a loved one when you die. Leaving clear, express instructions regarding who you would wish any property to be left to is essential.
Inheriting Money Yourself
After making a Will, you may later inherit money or possessions yourself which may alter your wishes in relation to the instructions your have left in your Will.
Whether you inherit money, property, stocks and shares, precious family heirlooms such as paintings, furniture, antiques and jewellery or even items that have little financial value, but significant sentimental or historic value to your and your family, if you want to pass these items on to other family members, it is essential that you document this in your own Will.
Without outlining your wishes and ensuring these reflect your current circumstances, these items could all too easily be overlooked or lost to future generations.
Whilst this is by no means an exhaustive list, these are just some of the instances when you should consider updating your Will. Any significant life changes can however have an impact upon the instructions that you have set out and therefore should be reviewed accordingly.
If you would like to discuss making or updating your Will, please contact Melanie Byrne on 07939 121341 or email Melanie.Byrne@psg-law.co.uk or Paul Baker on 07964 354451 or email Paul.Baker@psg-law.co.uk or pop into our Altrincham office at 1 The Downs.