When Should You Review Your Will?
It is always important to have a Will but it is equally important to review your Will. At Ridley & Hall we always recommend that you review your Will every couple of years to ensure it still accurately reflects your wishes and circumstances. We are always happy to answer any questions that may arise from the review.
In addition to these regular reviews there are circumstances when it is even more important to review your Will.
Changes to Your Personal Circumstances
Marriage or civil partnerships will automatically revoke a Will unless the Will was made in expectation or contemplation of the marriage or civil partnership and you will be intestate (not have a valid Will) as soon as you sign the register. In these circumstances the ‘intestacy rules’, which are a rigid set of rules that determine who receives your estate, will apply. In these days of second or later life relationships these might not reflect your wishes.
On divorce or termination of a civil partnership your Will would still be valid but will treat your former spouse or civil partner as if they had died before you, which the majority would want but you may still wish to update your Will to appoint new executors and/or guardians.
If you start living with a partner you might want to make some provision for them in your Will either financially or by giving them a right to continue to live in your property for a set period of time or during their lifetime. If you don’t, they will receive nothing unless they decide to bring a claim against your estate which would be costly, stressful and time consuming.
When children come along it is advisable to appoint someone of your choice as a guardian for minor children in the event that you die and there is no-one to look after them.
Have the types of assets you own changed or increased in value?
Do your assets now include digital assets such as photographs stored in an online account that you want to give to a specific beneficiary? Or valuable intellectual property in online assets such as copyright to a blog which might require different trustees to be appointed?
An interest in a business can be given as a specific legacy or form part of the residuary estate but you need to check that this does not contradict any documents relating to the business such as the articles of association. There are also inheritance tax implications to consider.
Generally speaking a Will made in England & Wales does not cover a property abroad and you will need a Will in the jurisdiction of the property. It is vital that the two Wills do not revoke one another.
The current ‘nil rate band’ threshold for an individual is £325,000 and the combined estate of a married couple or civil partnership is £650,000. If your estate is near or over these thresholds, you may need to take expert advice to reduce the potential inheritance tax liability by the use of tax efficient Wills or the use of exemptions given for charitable gifts.
Simply Changed Your Mind?
Relationships change and families grow. As a result you might want to remove or add beneficiaries . Perhaps one or more of your executors has died, is unable or unwilling to act in dealing with your estate and replacement executors are needed. If the relationship between your named executors has broken down you might want to appoint professional executors in conjunction with or instead of an executor.
If you haven’t reviewed your Will recently, NOW IS THE TIME!
If you have any questions with regards to amending or making a Will, please contact Ridley & Hall on 01484 538421 and ask to speak to a member of the Wills & Probate team.