22 October 2018

Congratulations, you have prepared your Will! However, the buck does not stop there. It is very important that you keep your Will at the back of your mind and review it on a regular basis to see if it needs to be updated. What are the circumstances which should prompt you to review your Will?

Change in your relationship status

You have married or entered into a civil partnership - any Will you have made before your marriage/civil partnership will be automatically revoked, unless you made your Will in contemplation of your marriage/civil partnership.

You have separated – Divorce and dissolution of civil partnerships are lengthy processes, is your ex-partner your main executor and your main beneficiary? This might not be what you want during the separation period.

You have divorced – Your Will still exists, but any gifts to your ex-partner will lapse and they will no longer be the executor of your Will if you so named them.

You are now cohabiting with your partner – Cohabiting couples do not have the same legal rights as married couples, there is no such thing as a “common law marriage”. Do you and your partner jointly own the property you are living in? If not, the surviving partner could be made homeless if the property is distributed according to the rules of intestacy.

You now have children or grandchildren

You can specify legal guardians for your children in your Will if you want to avoid them going to the ‘less desirable’ relatives. Do you now have grandchildren who you want to inherit under your Will?

Change in your financial circumstances/assets

You have won the lottery! Or in a more likely scenario, you have come into some inheritance. You may want some advice on estate planning to mitigate any inheritance tax.

Have you acquired a business? Have Have you sold any property mentioned in your Will?

Have you acquired foreign property? You may need to enter into a foreign Will.

Change in your executors’ circumstances

Has your executor passed away or become bankrupt?

Change in your beneficiaries’ circumstances

Has one of your beneficiaries died or gone bankrupt? You probably want to avoid your estate passing to the creditors of your bankrupt beneficiary. Is your beneficiary suffering marital problems? Any inheritance could form part of your beneficiary’s matrimonial pot and be used to reach a fair financial settlement for both spouses upon divorce.

Change in the law

Pay attention to the Budget announcements. Thankfully, Chancellor Philip Hammond made no major inheritance tax amendments in his Autumn 2018 Budget. The residence nil rate band is set to rise as planned from £125,000 to £150,000 in 2019 to 2020.

Passage of time

Even if none of the above changes apply to you, the passage of time is reason enough. You should aim to review your Will every three to five years as you may find that your wishes and feelings have changed. For advice about your Will and Estate Planning please contact Lesley Eveleigh or visit our Wills and Trusts page here.

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