Remember, remember to update your Will
If you have a Will, then you are in the minority. Recent studies have shown that more than half of adults in the UK do not have a Will. That’s around 31 million people.
A Will typically sets out what happens to your finances, property, possessions and other assets after you die. Having a Will, and keeping it up-to-date, can save you a lot of time, stress and financial worries for your friends and family.
However, it is not a case of writing a Will and being done with it. There is a degree of maintenance that comes into having one.
Many circumstances can change over a lifetime, such as births, death and marriages or you may inherit from a relative meaning that you need to update your Will to ensure your wishes are carried out.
How often should I review my Will?
It is recommended that you review your Will every five years, or after any significant changes to your circumstances. For example, if:
- you have adopted a child
- you have grandchildren
- you marry, re-marry, or register a civil partnership
- you move house
- you go through a separation or divorce
- a beneficiary or an ‘executor’ dies
For these reasons, it is important that you regularly check your Will to make sure that it reflects your current wishes.
Typical examples include; if your Will references one grandchild and a second grandchild is born. You may wish to split assets between both of your grandchildren.
If you marry or enter into a registered civil partnership, it is important to note than any previous Will is automatically revoked (cancelled) unless your Will was drafted in contemplation of marriage.
How do I update my Will?
There are two ways of updating a Will. If you are considering making amendments to your existing Will, your solicitor will guide you the best way to do it.
The options are:
- Adding a codicil to your Will: a supplement document which outlines alterations to your existing Will, advisable for minor changes in the Will.
- Writing a new Will. This is advised for major changes to the existing Will.
Why can’t I just change my original Will?
Once signed and witnessed a Will cannot be changed. The only way to change a Will is by making a codicil – an official amendment.
Your codicil will be dated, signed and witnessed in the same way you would witness your Will.
There is no limit on how many codicils you can add to your Will, however you may find that writing an entirely new Will could make it easier.
Too many codicils could make it complicated for your loved ones after you die and should only be used for minor changes.
How do I create a new Will to replace my old one?
If you need to make many changes to your Will and decide to write a new one, your solicitor will take you through the process. The new Will revokes (cancels) any previous Wills and codicils.
It is advised that you keep all of your Wills in one place or you can destroy your previous Will by either shredding, burning or tearing it up. A previous Will can be helpful if your Will is contested after your death as it shows the line of thinking over time.
Your solicitor will talk you through this process and will be on hand to answer any questions or concerns that you may have
How can I make sure my loved ones can find my Will when I’m gone?
There is no point in putting the time and effort into keeping your Will updated if your friends and family cannot find it after you are gone. It’s not uncommon. In fact, 1 in 10 people with a Will do not tell their executors where their Will is located.
There are a number of places where you can store your Will, such as at home, at a bank or with your solicitor.
Storing your Will with a professional, such as a solicitor, prevents the risk of your Will becoming lost or damaged at home.
If you arrange your Will with us, Osborne Morris & Morgan will provide you with a free Wills card to hand out to your executors, friends or family. This clearly details that your Will is being stored safely with us.
It is also advised that you register your Will with the National Will Register and search service, named Certainty, which has been endorsed by The Law Society.
You simply record the location of your Will on this register, without providing any content from your Will, so that your friends and family can easily locate it when you die.
We can help
Creating a will can be an incredibly sensitive, emotional subject and there is a lot to think about when putting one together. We can guide you through it.
Our team of specialist Wills solicitors are on hand to guide you through the process of preparing Wills.
We will advise you on the best approach for you and your circumstances, give advice on inheritance tax if needed, and advise on any legal issues.
If you would like to know more information on writing or updating your Will, speak to our specialist Wills, Probate & Powers of Attorney team. You can reach us either by phone on 01525 378177 or you can contact us online.