It’s important to keep your will up to date. There are a lot of reasons why it’s important, but first and foremost it’s important due to the sheer unpredictability of life. If your will isn’t up to date and the worst should happen, you want to make sure that your assets, your loved ones, and yourself are protected. You want to make sure that everything is in place to make your loss as stress-free as possible. But do you know when you are supposed to consider updating your will? It’s a process to get it updated, so you’ll only want to when you need to. So, when is that? Take a look at our list of situations where you need to consider updating your will.
Your family dynamics
A lot of major life events will often require updating your will. This includes events like getting married, divorcing, and the death of a spouse. Typically, your priorities change with these events. You get married, you want your spouse to be the receiver of your assets. Then if they are not there anymore, they can’t/shouldn’t receive your assets. Marriages, births, deaths, divorces, etc. can significantly impact your intentions for asset distribution. Updating your will ensures your will aligns with new family dynamics.
Subsequently, having children will also require updating your will. It will not invalidate your will under Scots Law, but you might want to consider updating your will to reflect the new distribution of your assets and create a trust for your children when they come of age. Additionally, they will need a trustee. Along the same lines, you might want to consider updating your will to assign a guardian to your children if you are gone before they come of age. Additionally, this will mean thinking about how and when they get their assets and the legalities around that.
Reconsidering your executor
Your executor will be in charge of “executing” the actions of your will when the time comes, and that takes careful and ongoing consideration. You need to trust this person to act out the wishes you have, they should be impartial, and they should also be willing. Plus, there are practicalities to think of. For example, you might want to rethink your executor if you are moving far away or they are moving far away and consider the travel costs when dealing with your estate. If you are having trouble with a family member that is assigned as an executor, you might want to reconsider and get to updating your will to reflect a new executor, like a solicitor, accountant, or bank.
Changes to the value of your assets
We bet when you’re thinking about the day when you win the lottery, your first, or even last, thought isn’t about updating your will. It’s a consideration. If there are significant changes to the value of your assets, it will affect other things like tax implications, coverage, new beneficiaries, your assets being evenly distributed, or goals that are important to you. You should review your will every few years as your estate value changes.
While not mandatory, reviewing your will when the overall value of your holdings increases or decreases substantially can ensure your wishes are carried out as intended.
Changes in tax laws
Changes in tax laws won’t automatically invalidate your will but you might need to update your will to reflect these changes. For example, the nil-rate band and residence nil-rate band can change over time. Reviewing your will ensures you fully utilize tax allowances and exemptions. There are also gift-giving rules to consider. Rules regarding tax-free gifts made during your lifetime may change. And there are spouse-exemptions, for which tax rules can shift. Consider also that changes to tax residency and domicile criteria could impact your liability. Makle sure you are updating your will after any move abroad.
While your existing will remains valid, significant tax law changes in the UK make reviewing and updating your will the prudent approach to minimize inheritance taxes. Consult a solicitor on how new laws impact your personal estate plan.
There are a lot of instances when updating your will might become necessary. You should regularly review your will to ensure that your assets are distributed the way you want them by someone that you trust. If you need help making a change to your will, contact MM Legal for a solicitor. If you do it during Will Aid month, November, your voluntary financial contribution will be donated to Will Aid. Read more about Will Aid here.