We are used to taking care of our cars on a regular basis. Even if we decide to skip the service we are forced to have a yearly MOT to ensure the car is still roadworthy. But when it comes to our Will – arguably the most important financial document that we ever draw up – many of us forget that this too should receive a degree of after care. Our lives and finances are not static so we should not expect our Will to cater for our changed circumstances without alterations being made to it, or, at the very least, a review being carried out to ensure that it is still fit for purpose.
What should you consider when reviewing your Will?
- Who are my executors? Are they still the most appropriate people to act? Maybe you appointed a sibling to act as executor when you had a young family but that sibling may no longer be the best choice as they have got older and an adult child might be more appropriate.
- Similarly, do the guardians need changing? Perhaps they have got older too or possibly you now have an adult child that you might like to appoint as a guardian.
- Are all the beneficiaries still living? Some of them might have died before you and there may be no provision in your Will for what happens to the gift to them in that event.
- Have my assets changed? If the value of your assets has increased you may now have an inheritance tax liability and your Will might need to change to take this into account or the Will might need altering to make it more tax efficient. You may, for example, have started a business or acquired a foreign property. In either case it is likely that your Will should be altered to reflect these new assets.
- Have I had a major change in my circumstances? Marriage or divorce will affect your Will significantly with a marriage, for example, revoking your existing Will. Other changes in circumstances include moving abroad, having children and a significant change in occupation.
- Have any of my beneficiaries undergone a major change in their circumstances? For example, one of your children may have become an adult and may be living their life in a way that you do not approve, perhaps because of an unsuitable partner or an addiction problem, or a beneficiary might have been declared bankrupt. In those circumstances, you may need to change your Will to alter the gift that you have made to that beneficiary-a trust, for example, might now be more appropriate than an outright gift.
Just like a car, three years since the Will was drawn up should signal its first major review, unless anything significant has happened beforehand. After that why not use your MOT reminder as a prompt to read through your Will again with the above questions in mind?
Contact a Wills solicitor
For advice about writing or reviewing a Will, contact one of our specialist Wills solicitors on 0800 652 8025 or contact us online.