Home / Insights / Why should I update my Will?

Why should I update my Will?

At the beginning of March each year, the Association of Lifetime Lawyers launches Update Your Will Week. This initiative aims to encourage people to regularly think about checking and updating their Will to ensure their wishes are carried out when they die, and their assets go to whom they wish.

To help understand the importance of this, we caught up with our Deputy Head of Wills, Trusts & Probate, Paige Gouldthorpe, to cover the main reasons why and when you should review your Will, as well as share some of the experiences our life planning team have encountered when clients haven’t updated their Will.

Why should you update your Will?

It’s important that you review and update your Will when you experience a life-changing event such as having a baby, getting married, purchasing a property or perhaps inheriting a valuable asset. The reason this is so important is because a Will should represent your most up to date wishes, to ensure these are understood and carried out as per your instructions after you pass away.

After the age of 18, you are never too young or too old to make a Will. As soon as you have an asset, whether that’s property or you are entitled to income from a trust – or even jewellery, an expensive handbag collection, a valuable car or machinery – all should be flags for you writing a Will.

If you have young children under the age of 18, we advise that you include a guardianship clause in your Will, so in the event that both parents were to pass away whilst your children are still minors, you can appoint someone of your choice to care for them. If you do not have something in place this could be subject to court approval and no family wants to go through this process at such a difficult time.

Whether purchasing a property by yourself, as tenants in common or with defined shares, you would need to have a Will to direct who inherits your interest/share. This is very common when second marriages and blended families are involved.

Making a Will in contemplation of marriage is also a good thing to do, especially if you get engaged but don’t know when you want to get married. You can also include a declaration in your Will that upon marriage, your Will should not be revoked, and the terms can still proceed – but it’s imperative that this clause is there, as when you get married this will automatically revoke any former Will you have made.

Also, during divorce proceedings or before you have a settlement agreement, it’s best to update your Will to avoid your estate going to your ex-partner.

If you don’t have a Will, everything is factored under the Intestacy Rules. This means that your estate will be distributed to your next of kin, and any personal wishes will not be able to be considered. You therefore have no control over where your hard-earned money goes and who is benefitting from that.

That is the biggest misconception with life planning – people just assume their family or partner will get everything and it doesn’t work like that. Especially if there are family members you don’t get on with, or who may live in challenging circumstances where this can really affect them and change their whole life – it’s things like this that people don’t consider.

How often should you review your Will?

Upon every life-changing decision, like buying a house, marriage, divorce or having children you should review your Will – alternatively, we recommend you review your Will every five years.

It’s not just reviewing to see if it’s up to date but also looking to see if you need Inheritance Tax advice, whether you’re over the tax thresholds/nil rate bands, if you need more detailed tax planning, and whether it would be suitable to incorporate a trust.

One of the most important life events to consider, which many people forget about, is the potential of going into care or requiring care to be provided to you at home. We always advise our clients to start care planning sooner rather than later, because of the Deprivation of Liberty Rules.

What could happen if I don’t update my will?

We regularly see examples of people inheriting an estate from a family member who they haven’t had a relationship with and in some cases, we are talking large amounts of money.

One such example I am reminded of, is a couple who were together for nearly 60 years but never married, and the gentleman never revised his Will, so unfortunately no provision was made for his partner. When he died, his whole estate (including the family home he and his partner lived in) passed to his nieces and nephews under the Intestacy Rules – before his passing, he had no relationship with them. Sadly, in the last couple of years of his life he wasn’t even able to change his Will because he had lost capacity.

This is quite common, as under the Intestacy Rules if a couple haven’t married, the estate will pass to their children or to other family members and not to the surviving partner. This is also one to be mindful of when second marriages are involved and thinking about how your estate is to be divided between your extended families.

Do you have to use the same solicitor you used to draft your original Will?

Absolutely not. We can help someone even if we didn’t originally draft their current Will.

We would review the Will and depending on when it was originally drafted and how many amendments are required, we would consider creating a completely new one or assessing whether a codicil (addition or supplement) is suitable.

At Fosters Solicitors, we pride ourselves on our client care, the advice we give and, on the consideration and time we take in preparing and drafting the documents.

We free hand draft every single Will on a bespoke basis and we take time to understand the client’s objective, give them the relevant advice, then draft the document and send for approval. Once the draft is approved, we invite our clients to come back in where we review the Will with them one more time and go through it clause by clause to ensure their wishes have been interpreted accurately. We make it very clear to our clients that they should only sign the Will when they’re 100 per cent happy. So, a lot goes into what we offer in comparison to other online or will-writing services.

We also have a free Will storage service – meaning we don’t charge our clients extra for storing their Will with us.

For any advice on your personal circumstances and what this might mean for your Will, please contact our Wills, Trusts & Probate team on 01603 620508 or complete the form below.

More information about our life planning and bereavement services, including making or updating your Will, please take a look at our service pages.

We are also able to provide you with a free online quote straight to your inbox, please follow the link here.

Send us your enquiry

    Accredited member

    Our Wills, Trusts & Probate solicitor, Charlotte Ranson, is a fully accredited member of the Association of Lifetime Lawyers (formerly Solicitors for the Elderly or SFE).

    This article was produced on the 6th March 2024 by our Wills, Trusts & Probate team for information purposes only and should not be construed or relied upon as specific legal advice.