When should I review my will
It is advisable to review your will every three to five years, or after major life events, to ensure that your will is up to date and that it reflects the way you wish your estate to be distributed after you die.
Life events that may affect your will – Births, deaths, marriages and divorce
- The birth of a child or grandchild often necessitates a will review. New parents may wish to make provision for their child, name guardians and perhaps stipulate at what age they wish their child to inherit the estate. New grandparents may also wish to leave their grandchild a cash gift or make other substantial provision for them.
- The death of an executor, a guardian or a beneficiary may require the will to be amended. It may also be that it is no longer appropriate, because of their age, location or personal circumstances, for a named executor or guardian to be appointed.
- If you marry or enter into a civil partnership your will is automatically revoked and it will no longer be legally valid. Under these circumstances the intestacy rules will apply to your estate and your assets may not pass to your intended beneficiaries. A will can be drafted in anticipation of a marriage or entering into a civil partnership so that it is not automatically revoked.
- Divorce does not automatically revoke a will. Legally your ex-partner is treated as having died at the date that the marriage or civil partnership was dissolved. If your will does not stipulate what happens in the event of your ex-partner’s death then all or part of your estate may be subject to the rules of intestacy and your assets may not pass to your intended beneficiaries. Separation does not alter the legal validity of your will and it is advisable to amend your will otherwise your assets may pass to your ex before the divorce is concluded.
Changes in financial circumstances
- A change in financial circumstances following a windfall or a recent inheritance may mean that your will needs to be reviewed to ensure that your new assets go to the correct people.
- A change in property ownership may necessitate a will change particularly if the intention was to gift property to a named beneficiary.
- If you have purchased a property abroad then your will may need to be reviewed to ensure that the foreign property is dealt with adequately.
- If you have set up a new business or your business has grown in size it may be necessary to update your will to reflect these changes. Certain types of business and business assets can attract generous inheritance tax reliefs and business owners may wish to amend their wills to capture these inheritance tax reliefs when passing down wealth to the next generation.
Financial planning, asset protection and changes in the law
- Concerns over financial planning for later life and care home fees may mean that your will needs to be reviewed to ensure you have done all you can to pass on as many of your assets as possible to the next generation. The use of trusts in a will can, in certain circumstances, achieve this aim.
- Changes in the law such as the introduction of the main residence nil rate band may prompt a will review in order to ensure that your estate can claim the maximum inheritance tax reliefs available to minimise any inheritance tax payable.
- Changes in your children’s personal circumstances may require a will review to ensure that their interests are protected. For example, if one of your children is experiencing marital or financial difficulties it may not be advisable for them to inherit assets from your estate and you may wish to consider redirecting the assets or consider placing their entitlement in a will trust which may protect their interest.
- A second marriage may prompt a will review. Amending your will to incorporate a life interest trust in your assets or property will enable you to ensure that your assets go to your children but that your new spouse be provided with an income or somewhere to live if they outlive you.
Rix & Kay has a dedicated Wills, Estate Planning and Trusts Team based in Brighton & Hove; Sevenoaks, Uckfield and Ashford. For more information and an informal chat about how we can help contact Simon Landivar e. firstname.lastname@example.org t. 01273 329797