When to update your will: Common life events

Creating a will is an important step in ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away. However, a will isn’t always for life. Life presents many changes along the way, and as your circumstances alter, you should update your will to reflect those changes to ensure that your family is looked after and your wishes are set out.

Here are some common life events and reasons to update your will:

1. Divorce

A divorce can dramatically change your family dynamics and financial situation. It’s essential that you update your will to reflect the dissolution of your marriage, potentially removing your ex-spouse as an executor or beneficiary and including alternative arrangements and beneficiaries. Unless a will states otherwise, any mention of an ex-spouse in a will shall be treated as though they did not survive you. This means that their appointment as executor or beneficiary will be void.

2. Marriage and civil partnerships

Marriage or remarriage is a significant life event that often prompts a re-evaluation of your will. By law, unless a will specifically states, all wills are automatically revoked (cancelled) upon marriage or entering into a civil partnership.

You should make a new will as soon as you can after your wedding or civil partnership ceremony to look after your new spouse or civil partner and reflect this new chapter in your life.

3. Birth or adoption of a child

The arrival of a new child, whether through birth or adoption, necessitates an update to your will. Ensure that you name guardians for your child and adjust the distribution of your estate to provide for their future needs. You should also consider whether you are likely to have any more children in the future.

4. New grandchildren

As your family grows with the birth of grandchildren, you may want to update your will to include them as beneficiaries, or change how you leave your estate to reflect the new family members. Again, you should also consider whether your family is likely to have any more grandchildren in the future.

5. Death of a beneficiary

If a beneficiary named in your will passes away, you may need to update your will to address this change. Check your will to see if you have made alternative beneficiary arrangements to take this into account.

6. Death of an executor

The executor of your will is responsible for managing your estate. If your chosen executor dies, it’s important to appoint a new executor to handle your estate according to your wishes. Again, you should check your will to see if you have already made these alternative arrangements.

7. Significant changes in assets

Any major changes in your financial situation, such as buying or selling property, should prompt a review of your will. Update your will to accurately reflect your current assets and ensure they are distributed as desired. You should also carry out an inheritance tax review of your estate at the same time.

8. Serious health diagnosis

A serious health diagnosis can lead to a shift in your priorities and plans for the future. Update your will to ensure that your wishes are documented and that your estate plan aligns with your current health and life circumstances.

9. Moving overseas

Relocating to a different country can affect your will and estate due to different laws and regulations. It’s important to update your will to reflect your new location and ensure that it complies with local legal requirements. Consider whether you need a will for each country in which you hold assets.

10. Changes in family relationships

Changes in family dynamics, such as new relationships, estrangement, or the blending of families, can affect how you want to distribute your assets. Revisit your will to ensure that it reflects your current family situation and relationships.

Regularly reviewing and updating your will in response to these life events ensures that your estate plan remains current and effectively communicates your wishes and intentions. Consult a legal professional to help you navigate these changes, and ensure that your will meets your needs and suits your current circumstances.