Updating your will

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A will is not a document that should be dealt with on a ‘set and forget’ basis. That is because even though a will deals with assets upon your passing, it reflects your circumstances which exist as at the date of the will. Your personal and financial circumstances will likely change throughout your life and those changes will therefore determine whether you need to an update your existing will.

How frequently should you update your will?

There is a common misconception that testators should update their will every few years. This is generally not necessary. You should however review your existing will every two to three years to ensure that it is up to date with respect to your individual personal and financial circumstances, or whenever certain milestones occur that necessitate the will to be updated.

Milestones and events that require you to update your will

The milestones and events that require wills to be updated are as follows:

Marriage – if you marry, your marriage revokes your existing will unless your will states that it is made in contemplation of that marriage. Entering a domestic partnership or personal relationship can also affect your will, although this issue is more complicated. You should consult a specialist solicitor if that occurs.

Divorce – this is likely to affect your will. Likewise, the ending of a domestic partnership or personal relationship can also affect your will. These matters are complex and you should consult a specialist solicitor if any of those events occur.

Changes to your personal financial circumstances – if you purchase significant property or other assets after the creation of your will, you may need to create a new will. Likewise, if you sell an asset or assets, you should update your will, particularly if the assets are specifically referred to in your will.

Name changes of your executors, beneficiaries or yourself.

Death – if either an executor or beneficiary passes away.

Birth or death of a child, or the adoption of a child.

How can you update your will?

There are two ways in which your will can be updated.

The first, and most common way, is to create and properly execute a new will. This automatically revokes your existing will.

The second manner in which your will can be updated is for a codicil to your existing will to be drafted, signed and attached to your existing will. A codicil operates as an amendment to your existing will. Codicils should only be used for minor changes to a will. If you are planning on making major changes to your will, you should create a new will.

Please contact us should you wish to obtain advice on any of these matters.

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