Very few people will be able to keep the same will throughout their adult life. Here are just a few of the most common reasons why a will may need to be redrafted.
Marriage or Divorce
While marriage and divorce are more or less polar opposites, both should prompt you to revisit with your solicitor and draft a fresh will that reflects your new circumstances.
When you get married, your will is automatically nullified. The only exception to this rule is a will that has specifically been written “in contemplation of marriage” – with specific reference to this marriage. It’s safe to say that these exceptions are in the minority. If you don’t update your will, then you risk dying intestate – despite the fact that you have previously written and signed a legally valid will.
The rules of intestacy are relatively straightforward, but that also means that they are prescriptive and unyielding – no matter what your personal circumstances. Most people have at least a few wishes that go beyond the reach of these rules, so writing a new will is very important.
Divorce does not automatically revoke or nullify a will, but it does still affect it. While any other wishes stipulated for beneficiaries remain intact, specific mentions of your ex-spouse will no longer be considered valid. Inheritance will pass onto a different beneficiary or be distributed according to the rules of intestacy.
So, while divorce won’t necessarily require you to write a new will, returning to your solicitor will mean that you have more control over who that inheritance passes onto in lieu of your ex-spouse.
A Major Change to Your Estate
Whether you inherit money or assets from another relative, win the lottery, or come into significant money through some other means, any major change to your estate should be accounted for in a fresh will.
The very best wills acknowledge every noteworthy asset, whether it has a high financial value or simply a great deal of sentimental value. If a significant asset is not featured within your will, then that could lead to fall-outs and fractures between your loved ones when you do pass away.
Wills that don’t give clear and specific instructions for distributing assets may be turned over to the courts for “partial invalidity”. This happens when a will is too ambiguous or vague. The unmentioned asset may be distributed according to the rules of intestacy, or it may be the case that a family member feels they have a valid claim and has no other option but to work with will dispute solicitors to challenge the will.
A New Addition
When you become a parent, you need to rethink your approach to inheritance and leave the right instructions to loved ones. Children do stand to inherit if your estate is left to the rules of intestacy, but only a portion – and only provided that your estate exceeds the current threshold of £322,000. It may be that you wish for them to inherit more, or that, for the time being, you’d prefer your spouse to inherit everything.
In your will, you also need to consider the appointment of guardians. Choosing suitable guardians for your children is a complicated prospect, but it’s best to talk things through with your spouse, solicitor, and prospective guardians to come up with a fitting plan.