When should I revisit my Will?
“Nothing endures but change” wise words from Heraclitus, the brilliant Greek philosopher, and perhaps truer than ever in today’s fast paced life. But we can’t put off writing our Wills just because things might change, instead we just need to know when to re-visit them – and that we can and should do so. So here are a few examples of changes that should prompt you to re-visit your Will;
A new significant purchase.
Such as property, a place abroad, a car, jewellery, a rare record, a horse. Things like this can have an impact on inheritance tax liabilities so it’s important to chat to your Draftsperson to understand if that needs planning for. The item might also need to be passed to a specific beneficiary, for example would you children living abroad be the best people to inherit your new horse? Also, listing specific gifts like this can help maintain peace by you allocating who gets what it reduces the chance of squabbles – which happen more often than you think I can assure you.
A change in finances.
A positive change, such as a lottery win or being in receipt of an inheritance yourself. Or a negative change such as bankruptcy. Again, both types of change can impact your inheritance tax picture. If you’ve received a windfall you might want to gift to people before you pass away so your Draftsperson could introduce you to Lifetime trusts, and discuss how gifting can impact inheritance tax, and how to maximise your annual gift allowances. In the situation where an estate has drastically reduced, it can be vital that a Will is amended as any specific gifts could take precedent such as a cash sum to a step-child, but if that cash sum uses up all that is left of the estate, then direct descendants could be left with nothing.
A change in relationship.
Marriage, divorce, connections and separations. Marriage invalidates a Will (unless it’s been written in anticipation of the marriage that has occurred) so if you wrote your Will before you were engaged, and now you’re married, chances are you don’t have a valid Will. Divorce impacts your Will so that it becomes as if your ex-spouse has pre-deceased you. They are removed from any benefit – but what if it ended amicably? What if they rely on your financial support to raise your children? Likewise, divorce can be a lengthy process and maybe things haven’t ended so well, if something were to happen to you before the divorce was finalised then your ex could end up with everything! Unfortunately, relationships can breakdown between children and parents as well, and the circumstances could motivate a parent to remove a child from their Will. Children can also be discovered – reunited! Generally, if your Will was written after the point you had “finished” growing your family then your children will be individually named. So, if a long-lost child arrives in your life then they would need to be written into your Will – if they weren’t, they could receive nothing, or they could apply through the courts to obtain a larger share of your estate than you would have necessarily wanted them to.
“Status” changes for beneficiaries.
If someone listed as a beneficiary of your Will faces something like divorce or sets up their own business so has an increased potential for bankruptcy or develops a disability which means they are in receipt of means tested support. Any change like this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t inherit – but it does mean that without planning and protection, any inheritance could be swallowed up in costs etc. In the instance of someone being in receipt of financial support, that could extend to accommodation and support staff. All of that could be reduced/changed or even lost if their overall wealth was to change suddenly.
Re-visiting your Will doesn’t necessarily mean amending your Will. A lot of the time a client file note might suffice, perhaps just some advice from your Draftsperson is all you need. Occasionally an amendment will be advisable, and this can carry a cost. This is another reason to research and feel confident about which firm you use to draft your Will. You need to feel comfortable approaching them to query your life changes, and confident they will give you the best advice and do the right thing to protect your wishes.
But life can get busy, and changes take time to adjust to – I wonder how many of the recent huge Euromillions winners have re-visited their Wills yet? So it might help to chose a firm who keeps in touch, and checks in with your over the years to remind you of these types of prompts to best support you in keeping up to date – a firm like Carson & Hughes! So in a world where “Nothing endures but change” feel confident to lock in with us for the future.
Remember – Advice is free, so please get in touch.
Another fab photo from the talented Philippa Matthews, thank you Pip