February might seem a strange month to make resolutions, but as Hannah Montague highlights, if there’s been major change in your life recently, it’s always the right time to put your affairs in order…
Key life events can have a major impact on the validity and effectiveness of your final wishes. If you have experienced any of the following since your most recent will was drawn up, be sure to book a review meeting with a specialist probate solicitor.
I am due to marry my fiancé later this year, do we need to review our wills?
Yes. It is very important to see a solicitor as part of your wedding arrangements, as entering into a marriage or civil partnership revokes a valid will, unless it was made in contemplation of your nuptials.
If you don’t update your will after marriage and something happens to you, the law will deem you to have died intestate (without a will) and your estate will be subject to the government’s rules on who should inherit your assets.
I’ve had children since my last will was drawn up. Do I need to take action?
Yes. It is important you nominate testamentary guardians to look after your children, in the event both parents die before they reach adulthood.
The guardians you choose would effectively assume parental responsibility, ensuring your children are looked after and acting as their moral compass.
My wife and I have separated and are thinking about divorce. What impact would this have on my will?
It is good idea to review your will when you separate from a partner, as you will most likely want to prevent them benefiting from your estate whilst you are still classed as married.
If you go ahead with the divorce and something fatal happened to you before you’d changed your existing will, any bequest to your wife would fail. However, you would still need to review the appointment of executors and other beneficiaries.
In what other circumstances should I review my will?
If you, or anyone mentioned in your will, changes their name or address, you may need to update your will. Likewise, if a beneficiary or executor dies, or becomes unable to act on your behalf for any reason, you should update your instructions.
If you sell a property you have bequeathed to a specific individual, or it changes in nature, this needs recording, as do any alterations to the material value of your estate.
Finally, the laws relating to inheritance tax are updated frequently, which makes it important to consult your solicitor periodically – we recommend every five years – as you may be advised to change your instructions, make gifts or take other steps, while it is still possible, to ensure your beneficiaries are not burdened with a tax bill.
To find out more about making or reviewing a will, why not book a free 30-minute consultation with one of our probate specialists? Telephone (0114) 218 4000, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or complete this form.