Think that writing your Will is one of those things that you should do once and then forget about? Time to think again! It’s better to imagine your Will as a living document, which can adapt with you as you go through life. When circumstances change, it’s time to consider how your Will might need to be altered.
With every new addition to your family, there are new people you may wish to consider adding to your Will. Aside from children or grandchildren, this could also include a new partner: don’t make the mistake of assuming that cohabiting with somebody gives them inheritance rights.
Similarly, if your relationship or marriage ends then you will probably need to remove your ex-partner from your Will. Also consider whether you’ll need to change any appointed role, such as executor or guardian.
If your net worth has increased significantly – perhaps due to inheritance that you’ve received – then you may want to rethink the way that your assets are distributed. For instance, it may give you the chance to pass money on to people or charities who were originally left out of your Will. There could also be new tax implications – a qualified Will writer will be able to advise you.
You may have originally written your Will to protect your children as minors. This means it might no longer be appropriate once they fly the nest. Trustee and guardian information, in particular, will become outdated – and instead you’ll probably want to think about how your estate will be distributed between your children and other beneficiaries.
There's also the possibility that you have a beneficiary who has passed away since you first wrote your Will. Unless you have already appointed an alternative, you may wish to redistribute these assets. You could also take the opportunity to name alternative beneficiaries throughout the rest of your Will, in case of a similar situation in the future.
If you’ve made the decision to cut somebody out of your Will, or you have an estranged spouse you think may consider contesting your wishes, then you need to take steps to help secure it against dispute. An expert will be able to review your existing Will and consider if any changes are needed.
Do be aware that, while you can make your wishes clear in your Will, a dispute may still go ahead.
Perhaps you've simply decided to reconsider a decision that you made in the past - and that's fine too. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the first decision you made – potentially many years ago – is set in stone. If you want to update your Will for any reason then you absolutely can, and probably should.