Your will is one of the most important documents that you will ever produce as it ensures that your assets and estate are distributed according to your wishes after your death. However, writing your will is not something that you should do once and then forget about. As your life changes and evolves, so should your will.
In some cases, having an out of date will can cause as many problems as not having one at all.
Dying Intestate & Out Dated Wills
Most people know that writing a will is essential because they are aware that dying without a will (dying intestate) leaves their loved ones with a complicated and potentially expensive situation on their hands. That’s why they take the time to detail their wishes in a legally binding Will. The problem however arises if the Will is then stashed away and forgotten about.
If you write your will in your 30s, by the time you turn 50 your circumstances have likely changed significantly, which can cause serious issues for the loved ones you leave behind.
What Can Cause My Will to Be Out of Date?
As people get older, they tend to get better off as their children leave home, finish further education and start a family of their own. By their late 50s, more people have also paid off mortgage payments are paid off and have significantly less competing demands for their money. Rising house prices also often benefit those in their later years as they find that the house they bought when they were younger is now worth much more than they paid for it.
It’s important to ensure that you have the right plans in place to reflect your current circumstances, such as:
- Changing Priorities: In many cases, parents make their will when their children are young to ensure they are protected in the event of the death of one or both parents. As your children become adults, it’s important to insure their trust is protected.
- Changing Circumstance: As you get older, your relationships in life may significantly change. Your first marriage may breakdown and you remarry and have children with someone else, or you may remarry someone who already has their own children. It’s important to ensure that the people you want to provide for are protected.
- Property Changes: It’s important to bear in mind that as your property and assets change your will should be updated to reflect your wishes. For example, if you leave your property to your children and residual estate to a close family friend, then subsequently downsize your home, your children may be left inheriting significantly less than you had intended, while the friend is given a sizeable amount of money.
How to Prevent an Out of Date Will
It’s important to revisit your will every few years to review it and ensure that it still reflects your wishes. Here are a few things you should consider when looking at it:
- Does your Will reflect your current personal and business circumstances?
- Have any relevant laws changed, such as Inheritance Tax laws?
- Is your house (or your other assets) worth more?
- Have there been changes in family circumstances, such as deaths or new additions to the family?
- Have there been any new additions to the family that you would like to include?
After any major life event such as a marriage, divorce or birth, it makes sense to review your will to ensure it is as up to date as possible and that it still reflects your wishes. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Hentys Lawyers for more information on this, or any other Estate or Will Dispute matters.