Making a Will is no easy feat. It can be overwhelming as well as mentally and emotionally draining. You have to confront the mortality of your own life but also choose who will handle finances and personal matters after you’re gone – making this decision can feel stressful at times for many people.
However, once completed you Will likely feel an incredible sense of peace from knowing your wishes are set in stone should anything happen. However, it’s important to update your Will periodically to reflect important changes in your life, your finances, your property, or your family.
How often do you need to make changes to your Will? Does it need to be updated annually?
The answer isn’t as simple as a yes or no. You can’t simply look at the date on the Will and know when the next revision is due. Many factors influence how frequently a Will needs to be updated — and we’re going to look at a few to help you determine when you should update yours.
Updating Your Will
You should review your Will at least every 5 years and sooner if there are any major changes to your assets or family. Update any significant changes that have happened in life. Ideally, you want to report your changes immediately, but sometimes that is not always possible. So it is best to set up a reminder to check your will every few years if 5 seems too long of a wait.
What Life Changes Require a Will Update?
There are changes that can happen in life that warrant a change to your existing Will. Here are a few of the most common ones.
- The birth of a child. Your children should be added to your Will as substitute beneficiaries if your present Will does not mention them. If they are under 18 years old, we advise that you appoint guardians to look after them on your death.
- There is a divorce. In many situations, people do not make changes to their Will until after the divorce is final. Don’t wait. Do it as soon as possible. Changing the Will before the divorce excludes the spouse inheriting especially if you die before the divorce is made final.
- Your beneficiaries develop problems. You may choose to change the beneficiaries if you have one in your will who has developed an addiction or credit problem. You may want to make sure funds are distributed correctly and to your best discretion.
- Your named Executor or beneficiary passes before you do. If anyone named in your Will passes away before you do, you will need to update your Will to remove them and replace them with someone else.
- New legislation has passed. Sometimes the laws change. Review your Will every 3 to 5 years to ensure that it reflects any changes in the law.
- You inherit. If you’ve inherited some money, received a substantial amount of money from a family member or friend, or perhaps an inheritance, your Will will need to be updated depending on if you plan to leave some of this money to a beneficiary or even a charity.
- You bought property. If you buy property, that is an asset, and your Will needs to accurately instruct the executor what to do with it.
- You moved to another country. If you move to another country and own property there. You should have a Will in a country in which you own a property.
- You can’t find your original Will. If you’ve misplaced your original Will, it is best to create a new one and revoke the old one. Photocopies or your originals can be proved if you can’t find the original but the process is expensive and time consuming. It is better to use the opportunity to update your Will.
It’s No Secret That You Need a Will
To ensure your estate is taken care of promptly, a Will or a Trust is the best course of action. Your loved ones will be able to handle your last wishes with ease when they are outlined clearly and tax preparations are accounted for.
Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors are at the ready with an experienced and considerate team to assist you with your estate planning needs. Contact us for more information about writing your Will, as well as your other legal needs for probate, lasting powers of attorney, equity release, and settlement agreements.