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Does your will accurately reflect your wishes? Many people write their will and forget about it – even after significant life events have rendered it inappropriate or invalid. If your will is not accurate or up to date it can be a real bone of contention and cause undue stress and worry for your loved ones when you die – perhaps leaving them with not enough to cope financially, or worse, nothing at all.

How often should a will be updated?

Even if you have not undergone any significant life changes, it is advisable to review your will every  five years or so, to check that it still reflects what you want it to say and to find out if there have been any changes to the law which might affect your will. In recent years there has been a major change to inheritance tax laws and for many people that has necessitated a change to their will, even though their ultimate wishes remain the same.  Particular events that should prompt you to seek professional legal advice from a solicitor about your will include the following:

  • If you have new children or grandchildren – to ensure they are included in your will.
  • If you get married – in England and Wales, getting married will revoke an existing will, unless it was made in contemplation of the marriage.
  • If you get divorced – for the purpose of your will, your ex – spouse will be treated as having predeceased you upon finalisation of the divorce. It is therefore important to assess whether you have made substitute provisions, and if so, whether those still reflect you wishes. 
  • If someone named in your will dies before you– in such circumstances it is important that you understand what shall happen to the gift left to the deceased beneficiary, and to decide what should happen in light of the death.
  • If the executor is no longer suitable or dies– It is important that your executor is able and willing to administer your estate, and to control any trust created by your will. Catastrophic results can arise if there is nobody suitable at the helm of your estate when you die.

When should you update your will using a codicil?

It is possible to make minor amendments to a will by making a codicil. A codicil must be executed in the same manner as a will, and must make reference to the will to which it is attached.

Although creating a codicil may be a little cheaper than making a new will, they are not commonly used nowadays. 

It is usually the best option to write a new will

Codicils were more prevalent many years ago, before the days of word processing computers, to save re-writing long wills for the sake of a minor alteration. Now it is much easier to make a whole new will and it is generally tidier to have just one document setting out your testamentary wishes.

Looking for expert probate guidance?

Whether you are creating your first will, or, want to make alterations to your existing will, Howells Solicitors can help. We are experts in all areas of the law relating to estate planning and succession. Do not delay; take the first step towards reviewing or creating your will today, by getting in touch with us. Simply call 02920 404034 or email today.

by Laith Khatib

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