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The Importance of Updating your Will

Posted on July 8th 2022

Having a Will is arguably one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your loved ones. It is equally as important to ensure that your Will is kept under review and updated when necessary.

Regularly reviewing your Will can prevent it from potentially becoming invalid or leading to unexpected and unwanted outcomes in dealing with your estate. If you die without a valid Will, then the Intestacy Rules apply, which state how your estate must be shared on your death. The Intestacy Rules do not always suit your individual circumstances and there is no way for you to control the ultimate destination of your assets.

Having a valid up to date Will in place ensures that your estate passes the way you intend and gives you an element of control and certainty, as well as being the best possible chance you have of protecting your loved ones.

When would I need to update my Will?

Your Will must reflect the many facets of your life and their everchanging nature in order to truly protect for the future. This can take shape in all sorts of forms, but the most common events for updating your Will are as follows:

  • A new marriage/civil partnership: marriage automatically cancels a Will (unless made in anticipation of the event). This means that if you do not prepare a new Will after marriage, your estate could be subject to the Intestacy Rules.
  • Divorce: if you get divorced, your Will considers your ex-spouse or ex-civil partner to have pre-deceased you. The alternate plan in your existing Will may not reflect your wishes.
  • Changes to your family or loved ones: you may want to name a guardian, who should have parental responsibility for your children should they be under 18 when you pass away, or make provision to include a new child/grandchild.
  • Your children may have become adults since your will was made: they will no longer require guardians and could be suitable executors.
  • Change to beneficiaries or executors: you may want to change these to reflect changes in relationships or if they have passed away or become unable to act.
  • An increase in wealth: the laws on Inheritance Tax change regularly and it is important that you are able to get the most out of your Will and potentially save thousands of pounds in Inheritance Tax by maximizing exemptions and reliefs.
  • Change of heart : it could be as simple as just changing your mind from your previous Will, for example if your feelings towards your beneficiaries change or if you want to give a percentage of your estate to your favourite charity.

The case of Ubbi v Ubbi (2018) highlights the importance of ensuring that Wills are kept up to date and updated whenever there is a change in circumstances. Mr Ubbi was going through a divorce with his wife that had not yet been finalized and was living with Ms Corrado, with whom he had been engaging in a long-standing affair, at the time of his death. Ms Corrado challenged Mr Ubbi’s Will, which was made nearly a decade before his death and had failed to make provision for the two children. Ms Corrado was seeking an order for reasonable financial provision for her two children. This claim was successful and The High Court awarded £386,000 from the deceased’s £3.5 million estate. If Mr Ubbi had updated his Will, then perhaps the stress and cost of going to court could have been avoided.

What are my options for updating my Will?

There are two options available if you want to update your Will: adding a Codicil or writing a new Will.

A Codicil is a supplementary document that sits alongside your existing Will. It allows you to make minor amendments to your Will, such as adding, modifying or revoking clauses, without the need to completely re-write your Will. These small changes could be adding or deleting an executor, updating the beneficiaries or what gifts they are to receive. If you want to make significant changes to your Will, then it is recommended that you make a new Will.

While there is no clear-cut rule for when a Will must be updated, it is important to review your Will every few years as well as when any major life changes occur.

If you would like to speak to one of our specialist Private Client Solicitors about updating your Will, please contact us on 01244 312306 or law@oliverandco.co.uk.

Call and speak to a lawyer on 01244 312306