For a lot of us, a new year is the perfect time to reflect and think about how our lives have changed over the past 12 months. If your family or financial circumstances are different, it might be time to look at reviewing your Will.
You can set out or make changes to your wishes by:
- Writing a new Will – you should state in your new Will that any previous versions are no longer valid
- Signing a codicil (amendment to a Will) – this can be used to make changes and it will need to be witnessed and signed, the same way as you would with a Will
How often should you review your Will?
We recommend reviewing your Will every 2-3 years or sooner if there’s a major change in your life such as:
- Getting married
- Having a child
- Buying a property
- If the Executor named in the Will dies
- Getting divorced or separated
Whether you’re writing a Will or updating an existing one, you’ll get peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will be cared for and your wishes will be followed. Our experienced Wills and Trusts Team can give you straightforward advice and review your Will to make sure it matches your needs.
It can be difficult to know where to start when writing or updating your Will. Our Wills and Trusts Associate Solicitor Advocate, Nadia Rimmer, answers some commonly asked questions below.
Why Should I Review My Will?
If your Will isn’t reviewed regularly, it could be outdated when the time comes for it to be used. This can lead to mistakes being made in the administering of your Estate. In the worst cases, it could even result in an Executor Dispute.
Dying without a Will is called “intestacy”, which means there will be strict rules around how assets can be distributed:
- If you’re married, there will be financial limits on how much your spouse can receive
- If you have a partner but you’re not married, they won’t be entitled to any of your assets
- If you’re unmarried and don’t have any surviving relatives, your Estate may go to the Crown
Do I Need to Use a Legal Expert?
There are lot of options now for writing or updating a Will, especially online. These services can be cheaper, but they’re often not regulated. So you can’t guarantee that your Will, or any changes made to it, are valid.
By using a trained Legal Expert, you’re making sure that the wishes set out in your Will are officially recognised. There are some situations where this is especially important, including:
- If you share a home with someone who isn’t your wife, husband or civil partner
- Having property overseas
- Needing to make provisions for a relative or dependant who can’t care for themselves
We can help you write or update your Will over the phone or by video call. We also have Will writing Legal Experts in our Manchester, Lancaster, Liverpool and London offices who can help you.
You should never make alterations yourself to your Will, either by crossing parts out or adding your own writing to it.
What is a Codicil?
A codicil is a document that lets you make small adjustments to your Will. Like a Will, it needs to be witnessed and signed and should be kept with your original Will. This will usually be used for straightforward changes that include:
- Changing an Executor – this is the person who will handle your Estate when you die
- Increasing a cash legacy
- Adding beneficiaries – these are the people who will benefit from your Will
Codicils are useful because they stop you from needing to rewrite your entire Will. But if you get to a point where you are preparing multiple Codicils, it might be better to draft a new Will to avoid confusion in the future.
Your Executors should always be made aware that you’ve signed a codicil. If not, there’s a risk that your wishes might not be carried out correctly.
How Much Will It Cost?
This will depend on the complexity of your Will, or the changes being made to it. Our Wills and Trusts Legal Experts will look at your requirements and agree a cost with you beforehand.
We offer a range of fixed fee options that we can suit to your needs. If we ever need to do any additional work, we’ll let you know the added cost before we start so you know exactly how much it will cost.
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