Your Will: The importance of being up to date

The importance of making a Will cannot be overstated, but ensuring it is up to date can be just as important.  A Will is a document that should give you and your loved ones peace of mind.  An out of date Will can have disastrous consequences for all concerned.

Why should I bother updating my Will?

Life never stands still.  Your personal circumstances, the circumstances of people named in your Will and the law change.  If you do not review and update your Will, your assets may end up in the wrong hands.  Reviewing your Will at regular intervals is the best way of ensuring your assets end up in the right hands.

How often should I review my Will?

There is no right answer, but in general terms you should review your Will at least every 3 years.  Nonetheless if your personal affairs are far from straightforward and/or you have a complex Will, you should consider a review every 1 to 2 years.  A review should also be considered if there is a change in your personal circumstances or those of the persons named in your Will (your beneficiaries and/or executors).

I am about to remarry should I review my Will?

Yes.  Your subsequent marriage will automatically revoke your Will.  This can be prevented by including a non-revocation clause in your Will.  You should also review, and where necessary update your Will, to ensure that it meets the requirements of your new family.  This is particularly important if you have children from a previous marriage and you want them to benefit from your Will.

I have made a Will Trust for Inheritance Tax Purposes should this be reviewed?

Yes.  Prior to October 2007 many married couples set up complex Will Trusts for Inheritance Tax purposes.  The trusts were used to take advantage of each spouse’s Nil Rate Band and they were often referred to as ‘Nil Rate Band Discretionary Trusts’.  The law was changed in October 2007 and for Inheritance Tax purposes many of these trusts became redundant.  These Wills are usually long and complex and can now be simplified. if you have one of these trusts, it would be sensible to review your will and make any necessary changes.

My son has just been made bankrupt, he is a beneficiary under my Will.  What should I do?

You need to seek urgent legal advice.  If your son is left anything under your Will this could end up in the hands of his creditors.  Preventing assets ending up in the wrong hands is often an issue, particularly if your beneficiaries are going through financial difficulty or matrimonial proceedings. It is possible to protect your assets (and your beneficiaries) by ensuring that the correct clauses appear in your Will.

My circumstances haven’t really changed.  Should I bother reviewing my Will?

Your circumstances may be same since you signed your Will, but the law and world around you will undoubtedly be different.  To be on the safe side you need to review your Will.

I want to review my Will what should I do?

Seek legal advice from a qualified Solicitor who specialises in this area.  Ben Holden is the Head of the Wills & Probate Department at Donnelly & Elliott and has over a decade of experience in dealing with such issues. By providing simple solutions to often complicated circumstances he offers practical advice that is also cost-effective.

As part of their commitment to excellence in this field, Donnelly and Elliott Solicitors are proud to be accredited members of the Law Society’s Wills & Inheritance Quality Scheme.