A Lot Can Change in 5 Years – are you keeping up with the times?

30 December 2015

When we talk about keeping up with the times we’re not talking about fashion, music or technology.

We’re talking about safeguarding your future wishes, as your wishes stand right now.

Many people have intentions of making a Will, but never get around to it. Yet none of us know what’s just around the corner.

It’s essential to have a high quality, legally binding Will to avoid arguments, confusion and heartache at a time when loved ones are grieving.

Having a Will prepared is very simple and will secure your wishes for the future.

But I already have a Will

Having a Will is a great start but it’s equally important for it to be up-to-date.

Life and circumstances change over the years and so should your Will. There may be marriages, divorces, children, grandchildren and changes to your assets that need to be taken into account.

When should you think about changing your Will?

It’s a good idea to review your Will every five years or so. You can use your Driver’s Licence renewal date as a reminder to also review your will.

It may not need changing every time, but it’s a good idea to check just in case.

Key Reasons for Updating Wills

There are many reasons why you may need to change your Will.

  • If you marry – marriage revokes a Will unless the Will has been specifically made in anticipation of a particular marriage. You will also probably want to make a provision for your new spouse.
  • If you divorce – divorce automatically cancels any bequest made to a former spouse, so if you do want an ex-spouse to benefit in anyway you must state this.
  • If you separate – if you are separated from a spouse but not divorced he or she still has a legal claim on your estate, no matter how long you have been apart.
  • If you have a new live-in partner – if you are living with a new partner they may also have an entitlement. You should consider making specific provision for them.
  • The birth of a child or grandchild – you may want to change your Will to include a gift for them, even if it’s just has sentimental value. You may need to nominate wishes for how a dependent will be cared for.
  • Gift reallocation – you may want to change who you have nominated to receive a gift. If you don’t reallocate the gift, it will become part of your residuary estate, that is, what is left of the estate once all the specific gifts in the Will have been made. It is then up to the Executor to determine what happens to the gift.
  • Changing Your Executor – If one of your Executors dies or you want to change your Executor for any reason, you will need to appoint someone else.
  • Changes in the value of your estate – you may suddenly find that there is a significant change in your financial circumstances – you might, for example, have received an inheritance yourself. Equally, of course, you may perhaps have lost money on the Stock Market or through the drop in property values. You need to think about changing your Will to take account of this.
  • Cash legacies – you should also bear in mind the effects on cash legacies. What you thought was a substantial gift may turn out to be worthless by the time of your death, if you have not reviewed your Will in the meantime. It could make sense to state a percentage rather than a fixed sum or make the legacy index linked. This means the value of the gift will be maintained.
  • Personal information – you may need to update personal information, contact details or even include instructions about digital assets, such as online and social media account login details.
  • Powers of Attorney – have you got a General and Enduring Power of Attorney?
  • Change of mind – you are perfectly entitled to change your mind. You may decide that you would rather one particular friend or family member receive a gift than another. You may wish to change the Guardians you have appointed for your children. There might be a charity not previously mentioned which you would like to benefit.

How to change your Will

The simplest way to change your Will is by making a Codicil but this is only suitable for relatively minor changes or additions. If, for example, you have bought a new set of golf clubs that you would like to leave to your grandson, you could use a codicil for this. A codicil is an instruction that is added to your existing Will and you can change it in any way you wish. It is a legal document and must be signed and witnessed in the same way as your Will.

If you want to make more significant changes, we suggest you make a new Will.

Getting help with a Will

There are many services available to help you with a Will, but you must be sure that the person attempting the task is not under qualified.

You should enlist the help of a professionally qualified expert who can help navigate any complexities you’re facing.

Can’t I do it myself?

Not every Will is equal. It is a good idea to enlist the help of a professionally qualified expert. It’s very easy to make a mistake with a homemade Will, as there are certain strict legal formalities that must be complied with. A Will is an important document and it is worth taking a little trouble to get it right.

What next?

Every Will is unique and we have the expertise to help navigate any complexities that exist or could arise.

Contact Gill & Lane Solicitors at Sandgate via, or 3269 8111 for a free, no obligation consultation.