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Why keeping your Will up to date is so vital

Great - you've made a Will. You're ahead of the 31 million UK adults who still haven't got round to it.

But did you know, it's almost as important to regularly update any Will to make sure that it continues to reflect what you want to happen to your estate after you die as well as to take account of any key changes in your family set up?

A recent survey by MacMillan Cancer Support reveals some sobering statistics:

  • At least 1.5 million people may have, without knowing it, made their Will invalid by getting married. Marriage automatically revokes any previous Will leaving it null and void;
  • As many as one in ten people with Wills haven't got round to adding their children or grandchildren despite planning to do so;
  • Having a Will but not updating it to remove an ex-partner previously named as a beneficiary in a Will, or adding a new partner, are both commonly made mistakes.

What can happen if I don't update my Will?

Dying without a valid Will in place, because you didn't make a new one after getting married for instance, means you are 'dying intestate'.

As a result, your assets will pass to your next of kin in a set, defined order and according to rigid rules which don't take into account personal, individual or complex family circumstances.

This could mean that your children inherit earlier than you would have wanted and maybe at the expense of your spouse; unmarried partners - or those who have not registered a civil partnership - won't inherit at all and someone you don't want to inherit could potentially benefit from your estate.

Peace of mind

Making a Will and keeping it up to date is particularly important in a day and age when family life and relationships seem to be becoming ever more complex.

A correctly drawn Will is an inexpensive way of avoiding difficulties in the future for your relatives and friends in the event of your death.

It puts you in control of the final destination of your estate and importantly, it avoids costly litigation and relationships being torn apart. Another recent and major survey found that four million people have suffered financial hardship as a result of someone's death.

There are some key times in your life which should act as a prompt to making a Will or updating an existing one. These are: Buying a house; Getting married; Moving in with a partner; Getting divorced; Having children.

  • Here at Wards Solicitors, we will contact you every three years to ask if you wish to review your Will. There may have been a change in your circumstances or the tax regime which you need to consider.

For help and advice about making and updating your Will, please contact Wards Solicitors' Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity team.