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Is your will up to date?

You’ve taken the plunge and made a will, ticking another task off your ‘to do’ list. You stash the copy in a drawer at home and then forget about it. How often should you look at it after signing though? Louise Igoe explains when – and why – you need to look at your will.

“It’s never going to be something you look forward to, but I would recommend reading through your will at least every 5 years. If nothing else, you can check addresses and make sure you have included everyone you want to remember.

You don’t have to write a new will to deal with minor changes. You deal with something like a change of address by writing a note and putting it with your will. If you want to add a new beneficiary in (or take a current beneficiary out!) then you may be able to make a codicil.

Check who you have named as your executors: are they still alive? Are they capable? Are you still in touch or, as can happen, have you drifted away?  This is an important role in the estate administration process, and you must have people who are able and willing to see your wishes through.

When to update

As well as this, there are some important life events which should prompt you to get your will out and see if you need any updates:

  • New baby

It isn’t only sensible to review your will if you become parents or have more children.  Following the birth of a grandchild look to see if you treat this new family member in the same way as the others.  You can’t assume that they are going to get a legacy, you have to check the specific provisions in your will.

[Click here to view our latest guide on wills for new parents.]

  • Marriage

If you have will in place and then get married, the marriage revokes the will.  You’ll need to make a new one to ensure your wishes take effect (and I’m sure you’ll want to include your new spouse!)

  • Divorce

You may not realise that you should update your will when you’re going through a divorce.  It makes sense though: you aren’t likely to want your soon-to-be ex to stay as an executor or beneficiary!

  • Property transactions

Buying a first home, moving home, expanding a property portfolio, inheriting property: any and all of these are ‘will check’ triggers.  Property and land will be some of the most valuable assets you’ll own, and you don’t want there to be any lack of clarity in your will.

  • Retirement

A happy escape from the daily grind is something to look forward to!  It is a fundamental change though, and one which can (and should) focus your mind on your estate planning.

  • Care

If you or a close family member has to move to a care home, then you’ll want to be sure that your will remains effective.

  • Legislative change

Rules on inheritance tax (‘IHT’) can change, and will structures that worked to mitigate IHT in the past may no longer be appropriate.  To avoid leaving problems for your beneficiaries you should get advice on the impact of any new regulations.

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To find out more about our Private Client services, please contact Louise Igoe on 01789 206156 or via email.