It’s a common misconception that will writing is a ‘one and done’ exercise. While most of us would prefer to get it out of the way and avoid thinking about the distant future as much as possible, this can be a tragic mistake – one that directly impacts your loved ones when you are no longer around to help them.
We make wills to ensure that our partner, children, and anyone else who is important to us is taken care of after we die, but an old or outdated will can’t do that.
Here’s why you shouldn’t delay updating your will.
Not having an up-to-date will could make it invalid
Some life events can make an otherwise valid will invalid. For instance, there are a lot of official documents you need to update when you get married, and this is probably the most common cause of wills being made invalid. Even if you’re still happy with all the information detailed in the original will, you will still need to return to your solicitor to update your will and ensure that it does not become invalid.
Prevents you from passing on your estate the way you intended
Time can change almost anything, including your relationships – and the promises you have made, or the obligations you have to those close to you. It’s incredibly unlikely that a will you drafted twenty, ten, or even two years ago is true to your current feelings and situation, but, after you die, very little else can be taken into account.
Will dispute solicitors can work to help people who can prove they are owed a certain amount of ‘financial maintenance’ from the testator, even if that wasn’t noted within the will. But, unfortunately, there are plenty of scenarios in which loved ones just can’t prove the will is not reflective of their relationship with the testator.
Updates could protect your beneficiaries if the will was to be disputed
The example mentioned in the previous section is just one of many reasons why people feel as though they have no option but to contest a will. In some cases, the person working to dispute that will may be working against your wishes, and the interests of your named beneficiaries.
The clearer and more up-to-date a will is, the lower the risk is that it will be overwritten during litigation. Updating a will protects your wishes further.
When should you update your will?
Many times throughout your life. The occurrence of major life events – births, deaths, marriages, divorces, moving house, to name just a few – should always be mirrored by a return visit to your solicitor. Also, any significant financial changes – say, a large inheritance or a lottery win – should prompt you to update a will, along with changes of mind.
Keep in mind that, in the majority of cases, it’s not about adding a new line of text to an existing will. In most instances, you will need to draft a fresh will, even if the change is relatively minor. Don’t attempt to do it on your own, as doing so may cast further doubt over the rest of the will.