22nd January 2020
When Should I Make A New Will?
Throughout our lives, the people we wish to leave our estates to is almost bound to change. Significant life events, such as marriage, divorce, changes in financial circumstances, or finding a new partner, can all have an impact on what we want to provide in our wills.
When you make a will it specifies who receives the assets in your estate, including money, possessions, etc. If you don’t make a will, then the distribution of your estate is governed by ‘intestacy’ laws – a set of rules governing how your estate is divided up among your relatives.
What circumstances might lead you to review your will or change it altogether?
- You’ve just got married or had children – when you get married, or enter a civil partnership, your priorities in life change. All of a sudden, you’re committed to your new spouse and family. How you want to allocate your estate on your death may therefore change. While the intestacy rules provide that your spouse will usually be entitled to a large share of your estate, they might not get all of it, and anyway you might decide you want to gift some of your estate to your children or other relatives.
- You’ve separated – while divorce will invalidate your (ex) spouse’s entitlement under your will, separation does not do that. If you are separated but not yet divorced, it makes sense to restate your will.
- You’re better off than you used to be – as your wealth grows, the ways in which you can use it also changes. The rise in property values over time, and paying down a mortgage, may mean that you are worth more than when you made your first will. With a bigger ‘pot’, you may decide that it’s time to reassess where and to whom you will leave your estate.
- You have grandchildren – people are living longer and longer, and it is not unusual to have a large number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. While most people leave their estates to their children, it is increasingly common to make provision for grandchildren too.
- A person named in your will dies – sometimes a beneficiary in a will predeceases the person making the will, such as when a spouse or child dies. When this happens, it often makes sense to change the will, to ensure that their gift is properly reallocated.
It is possible to amend a will, but if you want to make significant changes to your will, the best option is usually to start again. There is a risk that amending an existing will can leave it unclear who you intended to benefit, leaving it open to possible challenge.
To find out more about making and amending a will, click here.