We all know the benefits of making a Will – or at least we’d like to think we do.
Wills allow you to set out not only who you want to benefit from your estate, but also who you would ideally like to administer your estate and personal affairs after your death. Wills help you to make provision for family and friends, look after the needs of any surviving children, preserve assets and set out your funeral wishes. However, there’s one important consideration that’s often overlooked in terms of estate management, and that’s keeping your Will up to date.
Why is it important to keep your Will up to date?
Well, simply because your personal circumstances will inevitably change over time, as will your priorities. What was relevant when you were single and care-free won’t necessarily remain as important when you’re married, co-habiting or once you’ve had a family. As your life-circumstances change, so should your Will. The alternative unfortunately is that if your Will isn’t relevant at the time of your death, then provision will not necessarily be made for those you love dearly.
So what sort of life events are we talking about here? What change of circumstances can directly impact on the suitability of a Will?
When a person gets married any pre-existing Will is automatically cancelled, unless the will specifically states it has been made in contemplation of that marriage. If it doesn’t state that, or there isn’t a Will, then the rules of intestacy will apply in the event of death and a spouse or civil partner may only receive a proportion of the estate as determined by the courts.
Unmarried partners unfortunately do not benefit under the rules of intestacy. Any person who co-habits with another will therefore need to make a Will, or new Will depending on circumstances, in order to guarantee that the other person benefits from their estate after their death.
The effect of a divorce on a Will means that any gift to a spouse or civil partner fails, but only when the decree absolute has been made. Therefore, if you have separated from your spouse or civil partner, you should amend your Will so that they don’t benefit from your estate should anything happen to you before your divorce is finalised.
Becoming a parent.
If you’re a parent, or are to become one, you should amend your Will to make sure your child or children will be looked after in the event of your death. If you don’t specifically spell this out, and an agreement can’t be reached, your child or children would be subject to court proceedings. The court would then decide who your child or children should live with.
Receiving a windfall.
If you come into money, whether through an inheritance, a lottery win or gift, your estate may be subject to an inheritance tax liability. A properly constructed Will can minimise an inheritance tax liability for future generations.
Owning a business.
If you own a business your Will will need to make provision for it to be wound up or sold following your death.
Keeping your Will up to date is every bit as important as making one in the first place. If you fail to account for your change in circumstances, then your family could well suffer financially and emotionally. If your circumstances have changes, then why not speak to one of Harold Stock & Co’s estate managementtoday? For further information about Wills and estate management contact Harold Stock & Co solicitors on 01457 835597 or email firstname.lastname@example.org