Business

When should I update my Will?

Updating your Will

A Will is one of the most important documents you’ll make, as it sets out how you’d like to distribute your assets after your death. It provides an opportunity to value your estate, name beneficiaries, and even specify who you’d like to take care of your children or pets should the need arise.

When a Will is made, it reflects the wishes of the testator at the time. Many people make Wills and then don’t return to them, thinking they are covered for perhaps decades. But while a Will can include contingencies, such as clauses to include any as-yet unborn children or grandchildren, it’s advisable to update the document if your wishes or circumstances change.

When to update your Will

The following are examples of when you might choose to update your Will.

  • Inheritance

If you have recently inherited yourself, and the value of your estate has increased or now includes additional properties, business interests or overseas assets, it’s a good idea to update your Will. You may choose to speak to Kent tax advisors first, so that you can minimise your Inheritance Tax liability before setting your wishes in stone. Non-dom and high net worth individuals should consult with a professional such as Nick Hughes, who specialises in these matters, to ensure they can pass on as much as possible.

  • Property acquisition

Purchasing a property, be it residential or commercial, represents a significant change in the value of your estate. If you have bought with a partner or relation, you will also need to specify whether you are joint tenants or tenants in common, as this will affect whether you can pass your property on to a chosen beneficiary.

  • Marriage and divorce

Not everyone is aware that if they get married, their existing Will automatically becomes invalid. As such, it’s important to amend the document after marriage so your wishes can continue to be observed. Similarly, if you have separated or divorced your partner, your wishes are likely to have changed. When you divorce, your Will does not become invalid, so you must change it to reflect your changed wishes.

  • New children or grandchildren

While clauses can be included in your original Will to account for new children or grandchildren, you may choose to update it when your family grows, particularly if you want to leave specific assets to certain individuals.

  • An executor or beneficiary dies

A Will requires you to name an executor, who will administer your estate after your death. However, if the executor dies before you, you will need to update your Will. Equally, if a named beneficiary passes away before you, you’ll want to review the gift that was left to them.

How often should you update your Will?

Your Will should be updated in accordance with the major changes in your life. However, even if things stay fairly stable, it’s recommended that you review your Will every five to ten years. If you’d like to make a change, you can do so with an official document called a codicil. This must be signed and witnessed in the same way as your original Will.

Dealing with an estate

If you are the executor of a Will, you can now seek help from a Kent accountant for probate services. These professionals can assist with estate valuation and administration, ensuring any Inheritance Tax is paid and assets are distributed according to the wishes of the deceased.

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