This is a question which we are frequently asked. The importance of making a Will which reflects your wishes is therefore paramount but, after making your Will, when should you consider reviewing whether it still reflects your wishes particularly if your circumstances have changed.
Our answer would therefore be that we would also advise that you should reconsider your Will every 2 or 3 years but there are many life changes which occur and can create situations which necessitate changes to your Will and these can include:
Many people are not aware that when you marry or enter into a civil partnership, any existing Will is automatically revoked (cancelled) and is no longer valid. Even if you wish to keep the same provisions in your Will and not make any changes, you would still need to sign a fresh copy of your Will so that it is executed after the date of your marriage or civil partnership.
If you do not make a new Will before your death, you will die intestate, without a Will. The intestacy rules will then decide who is to benefit from your estate. You may not want this for a number of reasons:
· you may want your children to benefit in some way rather than everything or a large proportion of your estate passing your new spouse;
· you may wish to pass part or all of your estate to someone other than your spouse or children or other family members;
· or that you may wish for your new spouse to receive the whole of your estate.
This is not an exhaustive list and there may be many reasons why you do not want your estate to pass under the intestacy rules.
The intestacy rules set out a prescribed order of who is to benefit on your death. Under the rules the first person to benefit would be your spouse. It is possible, however, under the intestacy rules that they may not receive the whole of your estate as the rules provide that if you have children, your spouse will receive a set amount, called the statutory legacy, and a half share of any assets over that amount.
Therefore, if your matrimonial home is held in your sole name and worth more than the amount which your spouse will receive under the intestacy rules, your spouse may not receive the house outright and a proportion may belong to your children. This can, of course, put your spouse’s security to live in the house at risk. It may also mean that the may struggle financially if they do not receive funds in bank accounts or investments.
If you are planning to marry, it is possible to make a Will in contemplation of marriage but, if no such clear wording is included in your Will, then the Will will be revoked by marriage.
Divorce from your spouse or civil partner does not revoke a Will. Your current Will would remain valid, but your ex-spouse or ex-civil partner is treated as if they had died when your marriage or civil partnership was dissolved. It would, of course, be sensible to reconsider your Will following a divorce as your circumstances will have changed.
It should also be noted that divorce would not mean that any Will from before you were married comes back into effect.
Relying on the fact that divorce does not revoke a Will but treats your ex-spouse or ex-civil partner has died can cause problems particularly if you were to die before the divorce was finalised. It is always sensible to reconsider your Will in the period once you have separated and before the divorce is finalised.
How Tozers can help
You may have a good idea about what you want your Will to address, or you may not know where to start. Either way, we will discuss all the various considerations, and listen to your thoughts and concerns so you can feel confident your Will covers everything it needs to.