“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.”
Tom Hanks in the film “Forrest Gump” (1994).
This statement became one of the most memorable moments in 20th century film, and when you consider it, Forrest Gump was quite right. Life is a gift, but unexpected things happen every day, whether big or small.
If you can be as organised with your personal and financial affairs as you can when life-changing events occur, then you will have peace of mind that if the worst happens, you are as prepared as you can be.
Shelly Wainwright, wills and probate lawyer at Ansons Solicitors in Cannock and Lichfield Staffordshire, advises that the most important document to have is an up-to-date will.
“Making a will is important. Having an up-to-date will is equally as important. Your will can be critical to ensuring that sorting out your estate after you die, is as straightforward as possible for your loved ones,” says Shelly.
Shelly outlines five life-changing events which could influence whether you might want to update the terms of your will:
If you have married since making your will, then your marriage will have revoked your will completely and you will need to re-make it. The rule on this point is that simple. If you intend to marry and want to keep the terms of your will the same, then the will can be worded to confirm this. I also encourage both spouses to make will at the same time. Ideally your wishes would mirror each other as we do not know who will die first.
Have you divorced since you made your will? If so, then the terms of your will are read as though your former spouse has died before you. So, their appointment as executor will not take place – do you have substitutional executors in their place? Any provision you have made for your former spouse will not apply and so you will need to be sure their provision passes to another beneficiary.
Your will may already have provision for children, although it is likely they will not be individually named. You may want to consider updating your will to include more bespoke provision to them is to fit their personal circumstances, especially if any of your children have any special needs. You may also want to appoint guardians for your children to care for them in case you die before they are 18 years old.
Have you been blessed with grandchildren since you made your will? Again, your will may already have provision for them, but they may not be named. You may want to include specific cash gifts or family heirlooms to them. You may want to increase the age they receive their provision, otherwise they will be entitled to the capital when the reach 18 years old.
If your spouse or partner has passed away since you made your will, you may want to change the beneficiaries included in your will. It may change the value of your estate, and gifts may need to be adjusted accordingly. Some parts of your will may not apply anymore and you may want to simplify it. If any other beneficiaries have died, you may want to review whether your will included a substitution clause or re-direct that particular gift.
Sometimes having an out of date will is no better than having no will at all, especially if it does not reflect your current circumstances.
At Ansons, we recommend that you review the contents of your will as soon as you have a change in your personal circumstances, or at least every 4 -5 years.
To make a will or review your will, contact Shelly Wainwright at Ansons Solicitors in Cannock and Lichfield on 01543 267984 or email email@example.com.
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date this article was published.