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6 life events that should trigger a review of your Will.

No matter how old you are, an up-to date, professionally prepared Will is extremely important. A Will is the only way to ensure that your wishes can be fulfilled, as a Will clarifies what happens to your assets after you die, who will receive what, when they will get it and it can also include details on how these assets are managed. If you do not make a Will, your property will be shared out according to the intestacy rule, and you may not give the result that you would wish for. A properly drafted Will ensures that any gifts you wish to leave are given to the correct beneficiary. Without a Will, it may be legally necessary to sell items or could even lead to a family dispute.

With more couples living together as co-habitants, it is important to ensure that your partner will not be at risk should you die without a Will. The issue here is that the intestacy rules do not provide for cohabitees. These relationships do not have legal recognition and a ‘common-law’ partner has no automatic right to your possessions following your death. We can help tailor your Will to suit you.

It is important to keep you Will up-to-date and it is recommended that you should review your Will at least once a year but any major life events or imminent changes to Inheritance Tax (IHT) means it would be wise to review your Will as soon as possible. In additional to an annual review, here we list 6 events which should trigger you to review your Will:

1.            Divorce

Any gift in your Will to your former spouse or civil partner will automatically become invalid from the date of your divorce/the dissolution of your civil partnership. Also, if you appointed your former spouse or civil partner as your executor this will no longer be valid. You should therefore make a new Will to reflect your new circumstances.

2.            Marriage

If your Will was not stated to be made in expectation of your marriage or civil partnership then your Will automatically ends when you get married or enter into a civil partnership. Unless you make a new will you will therefore die without a Will and the laws of intestacy will determine what happens to your assets.

3.            An executor or a beneficiary under your Will dies

Your Will may already provide for what happens in the event of the death of your executor or a beneficiary. However, if it does not, you may need to change your Will as this can lead to significant changes and potentially partial intestacy.

4.            You have new additions to your family

It is an exciting time when your family expands to include new children or grandchildren. You may want to change your Will to include new family members. If you are a parent with children under 18 you should always think about appointing a guardian, which can be included in your Will.

5.            Your assets have changed significantly

Sometimes Wills need updating because you either have more assets than you used to or because you no longer have the assets you used to have (e.g. you have sold your home). If specific assets have been named in the Will then it is important to ensure the Will is updated if these assets no longer exist as these gifts will fail.

6.            Amendments to laws affecting your Will

Taxation and legislation change constantly, much of which you may never hear about.  As tax treatment depends on individual circumstances, it is important to regularly review your Will with a professional, so they can advise of any changes that affect you and identify any amendments you can make to mitigate or benefit from those changes. This will allow you to maximise the estate you pass on to your nearest and dearest.

Here at Cheyney Goulding Solicitors, Guildford we will consider your individual circumstances and offer practical, straightforward legal advice, ensuring your wishes are reflected in your Will.

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Cheyney Goulding LLP, law firm in Guildford, Surrey