Having a Will is an absolute MUST for anyone over the age of 18, with assets of value, houses and especially if you have children! If your children are under the age of 18 and both parents have passed away without valid Wills, these children will be put into care, and would not go to family or close friends like many people may think. Wills must also be reviewed and updated in some cases. Here is a list of times when you must have your Will reviewed and/or changed.
When you get married
In England and Wales. Marriage laws state that any Will made before getting married is immediately voided. If you don’t make a new Will, your estate will be divided according to rules of intestacy. This means the first £270,000 of your estate passes to your spouse, and the rest is divided between your partner and children, but other relatives won’t receive anything.
If you get remarried
Similarly to above, new marriages will void any Wills made previously. A common issue with Wills after remarrying is most likely, you will want the majority of what you own to pass on to your children (be it from a previous marriage or from your current marriage) but say for example you wish for your spouse to remain in the home until they die, but you wish for your children to own it after their passing. This can be arranged by using a Will Trust.
After Divorce it’s very common to want to review your Will. Most people name their partner as a beneficiary, executor or trustee. Once a Decree Absolute has been issued, anything you gifted to your ex, will be treated as if they died. This means anything they were supposed to inherit will be passed onto the next beneficiary entitled to it, however if your only beneficiary was your ex-partner, then your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. You may also want to leave something to your ex-partner despite not being together.
When you have children
Before having children, you might’ve wanted to leave your estate to other family members, but now you might wish to pass these on to your kids. Having children that are under the age of 18 means you MUST appoint legal guardians, or else your children will be put into care.
When your children get married
When your child gets married, their spouse effectively has access to the estate that passes to your child, you may be ok with them having access to the funds you leave behind. However, if they have bad spending habits, drug problems, gambling problems, or even if you simply don’t trust them and want your child to be the only one with access to your funds, you must review your will and adjust where necessary.
Another issue may be if your child gets divorced, the assets you left could be divided between them rather than staying with your child. Or if your child passed before their spouse, your estate could pass on to their relatives rather than yours or your grandchildren.
When you buy a property
It’s probably quite obvious that when you purchase a property you have to update your Will. You must state how you would like the value of your estate distributed, whether that means passing full ownership onto one person, or distributing the value of the house between your children.
If you remarry but have children from a previous marriage, you might want your children to inherit but also allow your partner to remain in the house until they die, meaning you will need a Will Trust.
When you have grandchildren
When you have grandchildren, you may wish to leave parts of your estate to them. Normally, when you die you might want to pass everything on to your children and then when they die they pass it on to their children. But you might want to pass it straight onto your grandkids to protect their inheritance from poor financial decisions or maybe divorce. You might decide you want to fund your grandchildren’s education, in which case you’ll have to create a trust in your Will which will only be release the funds for that reason.
When someone named in your Will dies or becomes incapacitated
If someone named in your Will dies before you, it is quite obvious that your Will needs to be updated. They also won’t be able to act as executor or trustees if they lose mental capacity.
When laws change
There could be implications to your estate when laws change, such as inheritance tax law changes. You may need to restructure how assets are divided.
If you have any queries after reading this blog about whether you need to update your Will, click here to apply for a free consultation.
“It’s never too early – but it’s often too late!!!”