A will is a very important document, with many estate disputes arising when people pass away without having one in place, a situation known as intestacy.
However, just because you have a will in place doesn’t mean that you can rest on your laurels. Keeping a will up to date is just as important as having one in the first place.
As a rule of thumb, your will should be reviewed every three to four years to ensure that it is still up to date and conveys your wishes. However, there are a few times that your will should be updated more regularly, in order to keep it in line with the plans you have for your estate.
If you get divorced, for example, it is important to update your will, especially if a main beneficiary is your ex-partner. Failing to change your will at this point could lead to an estate dispute. For the same reason, you should consider revising your will when you get married or remarried as these events may revoke any will made previously.
It isn’t just when you go through life changes that it is worth revising a will though. If there are any changes among your intended beneficiaries – for example if you have another child or grandchild – then it is important to revise your will with this in mind.
The same is also true if anything happens to your intended beneficiaries. An unexpected death or divorce among those who will benefit from your will may mean that you need to rethink these provisions.
Finally, it isn’t just changes in family status that need to be reflected in a will. If the size of your estate grows considerably – for example, as the result of an inheritance – then it is important to update your own will to reflect these changes.
It is also possible to prepare wills which significantly benefit your intended beneficiaries by creating trust arrangements which may minimise tax consequences for them and protect the inheritance from possible attack from creditors.
If you are looking to draft or revise a will, make sure that you talk to one of our wills and estates lawyer.