Once you have made a Will it is important to review it regularly and to keep it up to date to reflect your current wishes. If your circumstances change it could be time to update your Will to ensure your personal possessions and assets are distributed accordingly to the people you wish to benefit from your estate.
Some common changes of circumstances in which you should review your Will include:
Marrying or entering into a registered civil partnership after you made your Will
A marriage or civil partnership can automatically revoke your Will if the Will was not made in anticipation of such a marriage or civil partnership. You may also want to name your spouse or civil partner as an executor (the person who will sort out your estate after you die) or a beneficiary of your Will if you wish for them to benefit from your estate.
Separation from your spouse or civil partner after you made your Will
You may wish to review your Will if your partner is an executor or they are due to inherit from your estate. Also see below regarding divorcing and dissolving a civil partnership.
Divorcing or civil partnership being dissolved after you made your Will
In these circumstances your Will will not be automatically cancelled and your Will remains valid. However, some changes will take effect. Your ex-partner will be treated as if they had died when your marriage or civil partnership was dissolved. Consequently, if your ex-partner was an executor they will no longer be able to act as an executor. Additionally, any gift to your ex-partner will fail. If your Will does not set out what happens in the event of the death of your ex-partner then the rules of intestacy may apply, which will dictate who can sort out your affairs after your death and who can inherit your estate. This may not reflect your wishes and it would be advisable in these circumstances to update your Will.
The birth or adoption of children after you made your Will
If there are any new additions to the family, such as children, grandchildren or adopted children, you may want to consider updating your Will if you wish to include them as beneficiaries.
The death of a beneficiary or executor after you made your Will
In such circumstances you should review your Will. You may not need to update your Will if there is provision in your Will for the death of an executor or a beneficiary, but it is something that should be reviewed with a legal professional.
Falling out with family member or friend who is an executor or beneficiary in your Will
Unfortunately, this is something we see happen quite regularly and it would be wise in these circumstances to consider reviewing your Will.
Changes of name after you made your Will
If a beneficiary changes their name this will not invalidate their gift, but you may wish to review your Will and seek professional advice to make sure that it is clear in your Will who the intended beneficiary is. An experienced lawyer will have worded your Will in a way that it is clear who the intended beneficiary is by including their relationship to you and their address. Similarly, if you change your own name (and this is not through marriage/civil partnership) you may not necessarily have to change your Will. It may be necessary in these circumstances to place certain documents with your Will evidencing a name change and a specialist lawyer should be consulted to advise further on this point.
Your Will should be reviewed regularly, at least every 5 years. There are also various events that will trigger the necessity of a Will review. Our specialist lawyers at Painters Law can review your Will with you and advise you whether your Will should be updated. For more information about making or updating a Will and to speak with one of our legal advisors contact our offices Kidderminster 01562 822295 or Stourport 01299 822033 or email email@example.com
Written by Charlotte Miltiadou
Trainee Solicitor in the Wills and Probate Department