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Updating Your Will - When, Why and How?

View profile for Heather Varley
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Updating Your Will - When, Why and How?

Keeping your Will Up To Date

Every year, Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) hold 'Update Your Will Week'.

Recent research from the organisation reveals that 47% of people haven’t updated their Will in more than five years. This means nearly half of Wills in the UK could be out of date. 

Having an up to date Will is important, as it ensures your wishes are carried out as you’d like when you die. It can also help ease distress for loved ones and minimise disputes.

Heather Varley, Associate in our Wills & Tax Team and member of SFE, explains why you should regularly review your Will, when you should consider changing it, and how you can go about it.

When should I update my Will?

People generally have their first Will written at the same time as big 'life events', the most common being when they marry or buy their first property.

There are certain times when it is particularly important to review or update your Will:

  1. You get married
  2. You separate or divorce your spouse – please note that marriage may invalidate your Will
  3. You have children
  4. Anyone named in your Will dies
  5. You wish to make alterations
  6. Your financial situation changes
  7. You acquire assets outside of England and Wales
  8. You move address

Related: What happens to a Will after divorce?

How often should I review or update my Will?

SFE recommend reviewing and updating your Will at least every five years, however should your circumstances change at all (as outlined above), they recommend considering it as and when they do:

"If it’s been over five years since you last reviewed your Will, or your circumstances have significantly changed recently – due to a new marriage, divorce, birth or even death in the family – we urge you to update your Will now."

What if I don’t update my Will?

If you do not update your Will, but your wishes or circumstances have changed since it was written, it can lead to disputes between relatives when you pass. Dealing with disputes at a this time can be extremely stressful for those left behind.

Regularly reviewing your Will should be seen as a positive choice about the destination of your estate.

What if I die without a Will?

Dying without a Will in place is known as intestacy. If you die intestate, there are rules that affect the way in which your estate is handled. These rules could affect you and your family.

These 'intestacy rules' set out the way that your assets will be divided according to the law.

We have created an interactive guide, in which we outline, in simple terms, how your assets will be divided depending on your specific circumstances. You can answer a few questions and find out what would happen to your estate here.

Can I change my Will without a solicitor?

Yes. You can look to the internet or go to the Post Office or local newsagents and get a “Will Kit” for a relatively small sum. 

Solicitors will charge more, however the advantage of going to a competent firm of local solicitors is the advice you will receive. That is what you will be paying for - the Will is more the by-product of that advice.  

SFE advise you use one of their member lawyers.

"Where possible, you should always speak with a lawyer specialising in later life planning, such as an SFE lawyer. They’ll be able to offer specialist advice and experience when laying out your wishes and give useful guidance on ways to reduce inheritance tax."

Who are Solicitors for the Elderly?

SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) was set up in 1996 and set out to be a specialist group of lawyers to support and make a difference to older and vulnerable people. 

By vulnerable, they mean people who may not be able bodied and/or who may be mentality incapacitated i.e. they need help to make decisions or they can’t make decisions for themselves.

SFE is now a national organisation with over 1600 members across the United Kingdom and a separate group in the Republic of Ireland, all of whom are fully committed to our ethos.

How do I change my Will?

You can start the conversation with us today. We are SFE members and pride ourselves on offering sensible, pragmatic advice in plain English. Call us on 01202 499255 or get in touch here.

The content of this article, blog or video is not intended as specific legal advice. For tailored assistance, please contact a member of our team.