When should I revise my Will?

May 31, 2021

Do You Need To Revise Your Will ?

The majority of people do not have a Will . And of those that do, many are out of date. We frequently hear from folks who made a Will decades ago, even before they had children. 

They have a sense that their Will is in place, but they know in their hearts that it is out of date and most likely does not reflect their wishes. They need to revise their will but are unsure how to do so in the most cost-effective manner.

Unfortunately, the traditional method of creating a Will is both costly and inconvenient. The same is true for revising a will. Individuals don’t update their Wills for the same reason that most people don’t have a Will at all — there simply isn’t enough time.

Fortunately, there are now several alternatives for ensuring that your Will is up to date.

When should I revise my Will ?

1. If your Will is inherently null and void.

There is just one circumstance in which your Will ceases to work (apart from the document being destroyed) — if you marry and your Will was drafted before you married (unless the Will specifically states that it was written in contemplation of marriage).

It is possible that this is a plausible situation. You may have a Will, be getting married this weekend, and then travelling to Mexico for your honeymoon.

Because you are unlikely to have the opportunity to draught a new Will between getting married and going for your honeymoon, it is prudent to create a Will in anticipation of that marriage. Of course, it is rare that you will need one, but if you are travelling anyplace, it is a good idea to have a Will in place.

2. Your situation has changed.

There are a variety of personal changes in circumstances that necessitate revisiting your Will ; even though your Will is still technically valid, it most likely no longer reflects your wishes.

If you divorce, your Will considers your ex-spouse to have died before you. So everything will now be distributed in accordance with your alternate plan (most properly-written Wills include a distribution plan as well as an alternate plan in case the first one fails).

A change in your marital status is the most obvious reason for preparing a new Will. If you are married, divorced, separated, or widowed, you should update your Will. If your marital status changes, your existing will almost definitely no longer applies (and in the case of getting married, your Will is automatically cancelled).

If you have a new child or if you have lost a kid. If your children reach the age of majority, you should revise your Will. If your children marry or have children of their own, it is a good opportunity to examine your Will to ensure that it is still valid.

Obviously, if your family  grows and you have children, you should revisit your Will. You would need to choose guardians and set up trusts for your children. Your estate’s distribution plan (or, more likely, your alternatives plan) would need to be updated.

For example, if you are married without children, you could have everything go to your spouse, and then if you were both in an accident at the same time, you could have everything go to your siblings as a backup plan.

If you later have children, your backup plan would be to give everything to your children, even if they are infants.

There could be a shift in your financial situation. This could be a windfall or the purchase of another asset. You could want to include a provision in your Will for that new asset. 

For example, you may have bequeathed 10% of your fortune to the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, but you are now worth ten times what you were. You should review your Will to ensure that bequests like these are still acceptable.

3. When you alter your mind

Your Will provides you with the opportunity to do some amazing things. You can give your favourite nephew money to tour the world, your piano to your granddaughter, or a percentage of your estate to your favourite charity.

With your assets being divided among loved ones and organisations that mean a lot to you, it’s natural for your feelings toward your beneficiaries to shift over time.

It could be anything as basic as a disagreement with a family member, or it may be a charity that becomes a significant part of your life. You may wish to honour that charity’s work by include a bequest in your Will.

You are free to update your Will anytime you have a change of heart and want to change how your assets are distributed.

4. When someone in your Will undergoes a change

Wills is peculiar in this regard. If you create a May with a solicitor, it is entirely feasible that your Will will be out-of-date by the time you arrive home.

People can be named as crucial appointments in your Will , such as your Executor or Guardians for your children. They can also appear as recipients.

If the circumstances of someone mentioned in your Will change, you should revise your Will.

For example, your substitute Executor may have health concerns that prevent them from carrying out their duties. Your Guardians may have relocated to Australia, or they may have had triplets of their own.

Because one of your beneficiaries may have got a windfall of their own, collecting £10,000 from your estate may be meaningless to them. Another beneficiary would be far more thankful for this bequest.

You should examine your appointments and beneficiaries in your Will on a frequent basis to ensure that your document still makes sense.

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