How Often Do I Need To Review My Will?

When you make a Will, the terms are based on the facts at that time. It is impossible to cover what may or may not happen in the years to come. Therefore, one Will is not fully future-proofed and needs to be revisited regularly.

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By Nicola Briggs - 27th October 2021

You should review your Will at least one every five years to check it’s still fit for purpose. If not, you’ll either need to make a new Will or amend your existing Will with a Codicil.

Remember to review your Will

When you make a Will, the terms are based on the facts at that time. It is impossible to cover what may or may not happen in the years to come. Therefore, one Will is not fully future-proofed and needs to be revisited regularly. As a general rule, the advice is to consider the terms of the last Will every five years.

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Has there been a change in your circumstances?

If there has been any change in your wishes or circumstances, then your Will is no longer fit for purpose. Five years passes very quickly and not many people are in exactly the same position financially or family-wise as they were five years before.

Changes may relate not only to those who receive a benefit under your Will, but also to those appointed to act in the administration of your estate. Relationships are not static. A named Executor may no longer feel able to act or have died. New members of the family may have arrived, while others may be persona non gratis due to separation or divorce. Some members of the family may be showing signs of addiction or the early onset of dementia, none of which could have been foreseen at the time of writing your last Will.

There may also be changes in your financial position. You may have bought or sold property, acquired a holiday home, discharged your mortgage or raised finance by way of an equity release. You may be thinking of your retirement or be concerned about how you are going to pay for future care costs. If you have made lifetime gifts to a relative but they are named in your Will, you don’t want them to end up being paid twice. If so, they may need to be removed from the Will, or their legacy reduced, so that there is parity between everybody.

It may be that your own parents have passed away leaving you with an inheritance. Or it may be the opposite and you have had to dip into your savings, perhaps due to redundancy or other reasons.

Then there are the continual legal and tax updates to stay on top of. There were significant changes to Inheritance Tax in 2007 and 2017, and there are likely to be more changes in the pipeline. Unless you keep up regularly with the financial press, you are unlikely to be fully aware of how much money will be available, after tax, for you to pass on. This will have an impact on your estate planning, and in particular, the way in which your Will should be written.

Finally, you could of course simply want to review your Will because you have changed your mind about certain aspects. You are perfectly entitled to do this, as there is freedom of testamentary disposition in England and Wales.

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Is it possible to change your Will too often?

We have had clients who have changed their friends every six months and felt it necessary to instruct us to change their Will on a similar timeline. That can lead us to suspect that our client is suffering from undue influence from other people, or that they are suffering from some mental disorder. We would wish to check that our client is not in a vulnerable position and being taken advantage of. So, a pattern of changing the contents of your Will every year may cause us to question your motivation.

New Will vs Codicil

It is possible to make changes to a Will by adding a Codicil. However, for the cost of a Codicil it is probably easier to make a new Will. Codicils can also cause difficulty because they re-date the Will. For example, a gift ‘to my wife’ in a Will would be a gift to the wife at the date of the Codicil, and it may have been intended to include a former wife. At Aticus Law we like to fully review your circumstances which is safer than just pinning a Codicil to an existing document.

If you want to know more about updating your Will, please contact us now for a free initial enquiry.

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