Why you should review your will

If you have already made a will you are doing better than most, but unfortunately that is not the end of the story.  Consider whether, since writing your will, you have separated or remarried, your family has expanded or your estate value has changed significantly.  If so, it might be time to review your will’s contents. 

Take David for example, who has been married to Susan for 30 years; their wills leave their assets to each other in the first instance.  On the death of the second spouse their assets are shared between their two children.  David and Susan also leave specific amounts to charities they are passionate about. One afternoon, whilst shopping, Susan is involved in an accident and, sadly, later dies. David does not think to update his will as he knows it will now pass the majority of his estate to his children.

Two years later David enters a new relationship with Anna and they go on to marry.  When David passes away, his estate is not inherited by his children as he expected.  By marrying Anna, David’s will is automatically revoked, so his estate will be divided up according to the intestacy rules.  This means that the first £250,000 of his estate will go to Anna along with any assets they hold jointly.  If there is anything remaining in David’s estate Anna will receive one half and David’s children will receive the remaining half, which will be shared equally between them.  David’s children may therefore each receive very little, or none, of the money and personal items he and Susan had planned for them to inherit.  The charities they were passionate about will receive nothing.  This is not what David wanted, as his priorities were to provide for his children and support the causes he cared about. 

Had David sought advice, these issues could have been highlighted and he would have had the opportunity to prepare a new will that provided for his children, the charities of his choice, and Anna if he so wished.  He would also have been able to include any grandchildren or other relatives he wanted to inherit from his estate. 

There may not need to be a change as significant as marriage before you seek advice. If you move house, an executor or beneficiary passes away or the needs of your beneficiaries change, a review would be recommended.  Similarly if the value of your estate increases or decreases significantly it is advisable to review your will to ensure your wishes are upheld and appropriate tax planning advice can be given. 

Ensuring your will is up to date is as important as making one in the first place.  It is an essential action in order that you can be certain that the people and organisations important to you are provided for in a tax efficient way. 

It is recommended that you review your will every five years or following a change in your personal or financial circumstances.  

If you would like a discussion with a specialist in our wills, trusts and probate team, please contact us and we would be happy to assist with a no obligation review of your will. I can be contacted on 01245 453833 or emma.clarke@birkettlong.co.uk.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.