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Review your will to ensure it matches your circumstances and the law

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IT IS RECOMMENDED that your Will is reviewed every three to five years – not just when a significant life event happens – in order to ensure your Will still reflects your current wishes.

Furthermore writes Laura Daly (pictured), senior paralegal at Franklins Solicitors, you may have had changes in your personal life or finances and your Will may no longer reflect your circumstances and may need to be updated to reflect the current changes in the law.

Here are some examples of changes that may have occurred to prompt you to review your Will:

A marriage, separation, divorce or remarriage

Wills are revoked on marriage unless there has been provision made for this within your Will. Therefore, any Will you had prepared prior to your marriage may no longer be valid and the effect of this is that it will be treated as though you had not prepared a Will at all.

If you have divorced from your spouse since you prepared your Will, your Will will not automatically be revoked, however any provisions relating to your ex-spouse will fail. Additionally, if you are separating from your spouse, your assets under the intestacy rules will pass to your spouse and this may be something you no longer wish to happen.

As such, a new Will will need to be prepared to reflect your current wishes in terms of the distribution of your estate.

Purchase of a house as a cohabiting couple

If you are purchasing a house and are not married, you may wish to consider preparing a new Will to confirm that if anything were to happen to either of you, the survivor is protected within the property.

There is no such thing as a ‘common law’ marriage and as such, your partner would not automatically inherit the property if one of you were to pass away.

Sale of a Property

If you have specifically gifted a property within your Will and you no longer own that property, the beneficiary who has been gifted that property would no longer receive the benefit under your Will and consequently may no longer be provided for within your Will.

It is recommended that your Will is reviewed to ensure those named beneficiaries whom you wished to benefit will still be benefitting despite your change in circumstances.

Death of a spouse or a named beneficiary

It is important that, if a tragedy has occurred in your lifetime, your Will is reviewed to ensure you have stipulated where you wish for your assets to go in the event that your spouse or named beneficiary has predeceased.

Birth of a child or grandchild

Your Will may need to be reviewed to ensure that, if you have had a child, you have provided for that child. If you have had grandchildren whom you wish to benefit, your Will will need to be updated to provide for them if they have not been included in your current Will.

It may be that you wish to gift sums of money to your grandchildren and a codicil can be prepared to sit alongside your Will to reflect your new wishes.

Vulnerable or Disabled Beneficiaries

If you have a vulnerable or disabled beneficiary since your Will was prepared, your Will is unlikely to provide for the beneficiary adequately.

If the vulnerable or disabled beneficiary is unable to inherit sums of money as it would affect any benefits that they receive, or they are vulnerable and not able to properly manage money, you may wish to review your Will to ensure that they are adequately provided for and trusts can be used to protect these beneficiaries.

Changes in your financial position

Your finances may have increased or decreased since your Will was prepared so it is important to review your Will to ensure that it still reflects your wishes. The law changes frequently and changes in your financial circumstances may have inheritance tax implications that might mean your Will is no longer tax efficient.

Alternatively, if your assets have decreased your Will may need to be reviewed.

For example, if you had provided for beneficiaries by including large sums of money within your Will and wished for anything left over to go to another beneficiary, that beneficiary may inherit either a much smaller sum or nothing if there are now insufficient assets in your estate to meet the monetary gifts.

Find out more at www:franklins-sols.co.uk

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