Writing a will is a job that not many people relish. But, once it’s done, it’s done. Right? Not necessarily. According to studies, the average useful lifespan of a will is around eight years. What does that mean? It means that, in many cases, within eight years of you writing your will something will have happened to cause you to need to change it. It won’t be the case with everyone, and a large number of people really can simply write their will and then forget all about it (apart from letting loved ones know where it’s kept, of course). However, wills do sometimes need to be updated, and if they aren’t then there can be problems when it comes to probate and executing the will.
When should you update your will?
If something major happens in your life, then think how that will impact your will. Marriage is one of these major life events, as is divorce. If either of these things occur after you have initially written your will, then you will most likely need to update it to include or remove people from it.
Children are another reason to update your will. It is likely that you will want them to inherit some or all of your estate, so they need to be mentioned in your will. Guardians are also an important aspect to include if your children are under 18. And if they turn 18 after you have written the will then the guardians should be removed as they will not be required.
The death of anyone who is mentioned in your will will also mean that it needs updating, and the same is true if you fall out with anyone who was originally meant to inherit. If you change your mind, change your will, otherwise the people you don’t want to inherit will do so anyway.
It is said that the average ‘lifespan’ of a will is about eight years. This means that, eight years or so after you have initially written it, something within it is likely to be out of date. So although a will can generally be written and then ‘forgotten’, there are times when it is important to remember it, and update it. Otherwise, there could be serious problems and delays when it is time to execute the will and grant probate.
You should update your will if something major happens in your life. This could include a marriage. If you already have a will and then you marry, if you don’t specifically mention your marriage within the will then your will be revoked automatically. An update is also required if you divorce or separate. Unless you want your former spouse to receive part of your estate, you will need to ensure that they don’t with specific mention within your will. Or perhaps, despite a split, you still want them to inherit something. Making a will after the divorce will ensure that your family understand this is exactly what you wanted.
If you have children then you will also need to update your will, as it is likely that you will want them to inherit at least part of your estate. Once they have reached the age of 18, you will need to remove any part of your will that mentions guardianship, as they will no longer need it. Plus, once your children are 18 or over, they can be appointed as your executor, which may be something you want to do.
What happens if someone you wanted to inherit from you dies, or if you fall out with them and no longer wish them to inherit? They will need to be taken out of your will, which can have a knock-on effect on other beneficiaries.
If you receive a large amount of money, such as with an inheritance, you should have another look at your will as your estate might be subject to inheritance tax. If you are not sure, then don’t forget that you can make an appointment with a will writing expert (such as IWC) to go through everything with you, and ensure that your will is exactly as you want and need it to be.