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Planning for your future ensures your assets go to the people that you want to benefit when you pass away. A key factor in good estate planning is having a valid and up-to-date Will.

A question we are often asked is “how often should I change my Will?”

It is a general rule of thumb to review your Will every 3-5 years. However, there are a number of life events and changes that may take place in the interim that will necessitate an update to your will or other estate planning documents.

Such key life events may include:

  • Having a child
  • Getting married
  • Getting divorced or separated
  • Moving house
  • If the executor named in the will dies

Having a Child

Having a child is perhaps the biggest life event we can experience. Bringing a child into your life is the biggest trigger for people to think about their future, and that of their family, and make a Will. If you already have a Will in place you will need to make an update. The most important question for new parents is “who will look after my child?”

A Will allows you to appoint a legal guardian who will care for your child or children in the event you are not around or become incapacitated. This important and legally binding document means you can put provisions in place, such as trusts, to provide for your young family financially. You may also wish to update assets so that your child is a second beneficiary after your spouse.

Trusts are also great to plan for the future if you have a child who is disabled or doesn’t have the mental capacity to make informed decisions in adulthood. To do this you need to speak to a legal expert who can take the extra steps needed to provide for the care of this loved one should be predecease them.

If you already have a named child in your Will but decide to expand your family, you will need to update your Will again to make sure your new child benefits from your estate. Another update may be in order once your child or child reach the age of 18.

Getting Married

Getting married is perhaps the second biggest life change we experience. The words ‘lawfully wedded’ change many factors. In most cases, getting married automatically revokes your Will. It is therefore important that you have a look at it and update.

You may marry someone who has children from another relationship. Such family units, which are becoming more and more common in the UK, can cause complications regarding your Will. Here, you need to think about exactly who you want to benefit from your estate.

Making Changes

After your Will has been signed and witnessed you can’t make changes to it. You can, however, make an official alteration called a Codicil, which needs to be signed and witnesses just as your Will was. A Codicil is sufficient for small, minor changes, but for anything more than this it is advisable to make a new will. Doing this will revoke any old Wills and Codicils meaning this new document are your final wishes. If you do this, make sure your old Will and any copies are destroyed; either shredded or burnt.

It is vital to ensure that changes and updates are legally correct when completed, otherwise your final wishes may not be carried out as you desire. In some cases, small errors can revoke or invalidate the entire document. Seeking a legal expert is an absolute necessity; you don’t want to cut corners when it comes down to something as important as this.

To Act On It and update your Will or plan for your future, make sure you deal with a professional and expert team. Give Gorvins Solicitors a ring to give yourself peace of mind on 0161 930 5117 or email us at actonit@gorvins.com and someone will give you a ring at a time convenient for you.

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