How Often Should I Update My Will?
You should update your Will after any major life event, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child or the death of an heir. You should also review your Will at least every five years to make sure the current version still aligns with your wishes.
If your Will is out of date, you can either start again and make a new Will. Or, you can amend the current one with a Codicil.
Review your Will every five years
Once you make a Will, we always recommend that you review it on a regular basis to make sure it’s still accurate. This should be done at least every five years, if not more frequently. You might realise that your wishes or circumstances have changed since you wrote it. If so, it is important to act now so that your Will reflects your current position.
Update your Will after major life events
Along with this regular review, we also urge you to update your Will after every major life event. There are certain scenarios that should trigger you to write a new Will, or update your Will as necessary. These are:
Marriage or civil partnership – marriage/civil partnership revokes your Will. So even if you made a Will today and got married tomorrow, the Will would be deemed invalid as soon as you signed the marriage certificate (unless you included a specific clause anticipating your marriage).
Separation – if you separate but you do not divorce, your ex is still entitled to everything you’ve left him/her under your Will. If you do not want your ex to inherit a share of your estate in the event of your death, you must update your Will.
Divorce – divorce does not automatically revoke your Will like marriage does. Any gifts to your ex-spouse will be honoured after your death unless their succession rights have been formally extinguished or renounced. Where succession rights have been extinguished/renounced, any gift to your ex-spouse must fail and that portion of your Will may be dealt with under the Succession Act instead.
Cohabitation – if you do not provide for your unmarried partner in your Will, then they will not receive a share of your estate. This may be pause for thought if your Will currently excludes your partner. Cohabiting partners can apply to the courts for provision, but only if you were living together for at least five years (reduced to two years if you have a dependent child). However, the court will only agree to give this provision in certain circumstances, so it is by no means a foregone conclusion.
Death of a beneficiary – if one of your beneficiaries dies before you, you should review and update your Will accordingly. Hopefully your Will makes provisions for this eventuality. However, even if you have reserve beneficiaries, the death may change the circumstances drastically, meaning you now need to rewrite your Will. This is particularly pertinent for those who leave all (or most of) their estate to one person, such as a spouse, who then pre-deceases them. Sometimes the beneficiary is not a person but an organisation, such as a charity. Again, if the organisation ceases to exist, then the Will should be updated.
Birth of a child – the birth of a child likely means that you’ll want to change who benefits from your estate. You can also use a Will to appoint guardians for your children. These guardians will be responsible for the care of your children while they are under the age of 18, should you and the other parent die.
Significant change in assets – if you purchase property or acquire valuable assets (or the value of your assets increases dramatically) then you may want to deal with this in your Will. The same applies where you lose or dispose of assets, or the value of your assets decreases dramatically. Otherwise, you may have made a specific gift in your Will that no longer exists, or that you can no longer afford.
Changes to tax law – a Will can be devised in such a way as to limit tax liabilities. If the tax laws change, then a Will written with tax planning in mind may be out of date. The Will should therefore be revised to ensure it remains tax efficient.
Codicil or new Will?
If you want to make changes to your current Will, you have two options:
- Write a Codicil
- Make a new Will
A Codicil is a written document that acts as an addition to your original Will. It allows you to add, change or delete certain parts of your Will. It must be signed and witnessed, just like a Will.
A new Will revokes your current Will and allows you to start again. This is preferable if you want to make widespread changes to your original Will, or certain life events have revoked your Will (such as marriage).
Either way, we recommend that you ask a solicitor to help you. This reduces the risk of mistakes being made, ensuring your wishes are enforced after your death.
At Mullins & Treacy LLP Solicitors, we can help you with a Codicil or a new Will. If you’re not sure which option to choose, we can advise you further.
If you would like to update your Will, or you would like to make a new Will, please contact us at Mullins & Treacy LLP Solicitors. We are client focused and results driven.
Call us on 051 391 488 or email email@example.com for a no obligation enquiry.
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