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When is the right time to write or update your Will?

03.06.2013

It’s a commonly-quoted statistic that 70% of the UK adult population doesn’t have a Will; however it’s a lesser known fact that the majority of Wills in place are out-of-date and in need of review or updating.

In many ways, having an out-dated Will is as bad – if not worse – than having no Will at all.

Of course, the difficulty is finding that point in your life when you need to consider your Will. But whilst there’s rarely an ideal time, the likelihood is that changing circumstances will mean there’s a natural point at which it’s appropriate for you to start your planning.

We take a look at some of the significant life events that may trigger the need for you to write or review your Will.

You’ve moved in together

Nowadays it’s not uncommon for joint homeowners to be unmarried – in fact, there are over 2m cohabitating couples in the UK right now.

But owning a home together doesn’t negate the need for a Will. If anything it makes it doubly important that you protect your financial interests, as well as those of your partner.

It’s a common misconception that your share of the property will automatically pass to your partner in the event of your death. In reality the law of intestacy – or dying without a valid Will in place – doesn’t recognise cohabitation in the same way it recognises marriage or civil partnership.

Rather than pass to your partner, your share of the property may be distributed to your relatives. Making a Will is the only way to ensure that your assets are passed on as you would’ve intended.

Your relationship has changed

Life circumstances alter periodically and relationship changes are commonplace. Have you married, divorced or remarried? You may have entered a civil partnership, started living with a new partner or become a grandparent, aunt or uncle.

If any of these events signal a significant change to your personal circumstances, you’ll almost certainly need to reflect this in your Will.

As well as adding beneficiaries to your estate, you may also want to remove people if your relationship with them has ended or deteriorated.

You’ve had children

Congratulations! Changes don’t come much bigger than this. Every parent needs a Will, which is why having children is often the major driving force behind couples making their first Will or updating an existing one.

Making a Will is the single most important thing you can do to ensure that your child is cared for by the people you would choose should anything happen to you. In your Will you can appoint a guardian to be responsible for the care of your child and a financial guardian to manage your financial assets on their behalf until they reach 18.

Through your Will you can also invest money in trust in preparation for adulthood or to make provision for higher education. Trust funds are straightforward to administer with the right level of legal support and can be used to limit future exposure to inheritance tax.

Changes in your assets

Throughout our lives our personal wealth can go up, as well as down. So if the value of your assets has changed, now is the time to review your Will and ensure that it accurately reflects your final wishes.

If you’re lucky enough to find that your estate has significantly increased – maybe in terms of your property value or you’ve been left a sum of money in an inheritance – now may be the appropriate time to look at ways in which you can mitigate or avoid future liabilities to tax through trusts and careful estate planning.

Regular check ups

Of course, it never hurts to review your Will on a regular basis. It’s a living document and will change as you and your individual circumstances do.

Your Will is probably the most important legal document you’ll ever own. But without one, the courts – and not you – will decide how your estate will be distributed and it’s very likely that this won’t be as you intended.

For a quote for our Will writing services, click here.

Further information

When important things happen, it’s reassuring to know that you’re in control of your financial future.

For further information, or to speak to our Will solicitors in Bristol, call 0117 325 2929 or click here to request a Will writing quote online.

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