It is a question that frequently comes up from our clients, how often should you update your will? Is it even necessary if things don’t change? This month we explore this further and take a look at the milestones that could lead to a change in your will and how you can go about making such changes.
Reviewing your will
In the absence of any major life changes, you should update your will every five years to make sure that your wishes have not changed in any way. Whether it is to simply remind yourself of what you chose to do or you wish to make some small change to something, a review every few years ensures that your will reflects your wishes for your estate.
Major life changes
These could include a wide variety of things, such as:
- Marriage: if you have recently married you may wish to include your new spouse in your estate planning
- Divorce: similarly, if you recently divorce it may be time to remove your ex-spouse from your will
- Death of a spouse: if your spouse passes away before you and was due to inherit any portion of your estate on your death then your will should be revised
- Death of an heir: should one of your heirs die then your will should reflect the new recipient(s) that will replace them
- Death of a dependent: similarly, if a dependent, such as a child, should die first then your will must reflect the changes to your wishes
Changes to your estate
Over your lifetime there are likely to be various changes to your estate which mean you should update your will. You may buy or sell property or land, come into an inheritance that you wish to pass on after your death, or experience changes to the value of your estate through gains or losses in investments. You may change your mind about certain causes that you chose to support, or find new ones that you wish to invest in following your death. In all these instances, you should review and make the necessary changes to update your will so that they are fully reflective of your latest wishes.
Update your will
There are two ways in which you can make changes to your will:
1. You can write a new will that will supersede your old one. This option is most appropriate if you are making significant changes. If you are going down this route then include a statement in your new will explaining that any previous wills and codicils are revoked and no longer apply. The old will should also be destroyed – deleted if you hold an electronic copy or by tearing up a paper copy.
2. You can prepare a codicil. This alters specific elements of your will without the need to create a new one and is done by adding it as a separate document to your existing will. This is best done by a professional to avoid the risk of any challenge or error which may lead to your wishes not being carried out.
For further advice on when you should make changes to your will or for assistance in updating it, our team at IWC Probate Services is here to help. We are on email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the phone on 020 8017 1029 for a discussion or to make an appointment.