First up, let’s just check that you’re part of the one-third of UK adults who actually have a will. Yep? Good. (If not, then it’s high time you made one!)
Now, think about when you last updated it.
If the answer is ‘never’, or so long ago you can’t even remember, then it’s high time you did.
“But surely once I’ve made a will, that’s it – I don’t need to think about it any more?”
Well, possibly – if you happen to continue on for the rest of your life without any changes to your circumstances. But it’s more than likely that there may be amendments worth making, especially if it’s been a while since you drew up your will.
There are a number of situations in which you might want to check the accuracy of your will – otherwise you may risk certain assets or issues being left off, or your wishes being misrepresented. For example:
Changes to relationships
Getting married, divorced, separated, or entering into a civil partnership are all vital reasons to update your will. An existing will is cancelled when you get married or enter a civil partnership, but may still be valid during separation and divorce unless you make amendments. Unmarried cohabitants also need to keep their wills updated – especially if you want to make sure both of you have an interest in any property or shared assets.
Changes to your living situation
If you’ve moved house, downsized, upsized, invested in property, bought a buy-to-let, or have any other property to include on your will, it’s important that you keep the details up to date.
Changes to assets and liabilities
Assets and liabilities will change over time – whether you’ve come into some inheritance, started a business, or acquired new debts – so make sure these are all reflected in your will to make sure estate is fully represented and you’re not leaving beneficiaries with any nasty surprises!
Changes to beneficiaries and executors
Perhaps your family has grown since you made your will and you have a new partner, child, grandchild, or other family member to include as beneficiaries. Or perhaps you need to remove a beneficiary or change one of your chosen executors. Keep your will up to date and make sure everyone important to you is included.
Changes to your health and circumstances
Arranging Lasting Powers of Attorney is another important aspect of future planning, and an LPA can help to protect and support you later in life if you should find yourself unable to manage some or all of your affairs. Similarly, any significant changes to your circumstances should be a prompt to amend your will to make sure all the details are kept up to date.
Changes to the law
Your solicitor should let you know if there are any changes to the law that affect your current will, for example: changes to inheritance tax, probate fees, or specific issues relating to your assets and estate. But it’s also worth checking in every so often to make sure no additional amendments need to be made – for any of the reasons listed above.
Keeping your will up to date and arranging lasting powers of attorney are the best ways to make sure you and your loved ones are taken care of properly in the future. Your solicitor will be able to provide you with guidance and advice on when and how to make alterations, as well as helping to reduce inheritance tax payments and ensure that your wishes are followed.
For more information on wills, probate, and lasting powers of attorney, get in touch with our friendly, down-to-earth team at Frances Lindsay & Co. We’re here to take the weight off your shoulders and make the whole process as easy as possible. And then you can go and forget about it all again (or at least until you need to update it)!