Many financial planners may tell you that your will is a vitally important element of your financial plan.
With this legally binding document in place, you can take control of your destiny and be sure that your assets will be distributed in line with your wishes.
But simply writing a will isn’t enough, as your circumstances can change dramatically over time.
So when should you be thinking about updating this vital document, so you can be sure it remains fit for purpose at any given time and reflects your current wishes?
If you’ve entered into a marriage or civil partnership, you must update your will to include your spouse or partner. Otherwise, they might not get everything you wanted to leave them if you pass away.
If you’re coming out of a marriage or civil partnership, you should again update your will, so any references to your ex-partner are updated accordingly.
This is especially important if you move into a new relationship after ending your marriage, but don’t remarry, because if you die, your new partner won’t have any automatic right to inherit your assets.
That’s still the case even if you cohabit with your new partner for many years and have children together. In this scenario, it may still be your ex who has a legal claim to your estate.
Estrangement from a loved one
It may be that you fall out with a close family member who is mentioned in your will and no longer want them to be a beneficiary. If this happens, it’s important to update your will accordingly, so there aren’t any family conflicts further down the line.
Having a child
The birth of a child is the perfect opportunity to revise your will so you can safeguard their financial future in the event of you passing away.
A change in your financial circumstances
Your financial situation could change dramatically without warning, perhaps because you’ve received an inheritance or windfall. Or perhaps you’ve moved into a job with a much higher salary.
In that case, you should look again at your will, as this could make a big difference to how you plan to distribute your assets after your death.
For example, if you find yourself with a much larger estate, you might be more likely to consider leaving some of your wealth to a charity or good cause.
Buying a property
For most people, a property will be the most valuable asset that they own, so if you’re on the housing ladder, make provision for your home in your will so it can be passed smoothly to your chosen beneficiary.
It’s been a long time since you wrote your will
Even if you haven’t experienced any of the life events we’ve described, it’s still a good idea to review your will after a few years, so you can be 100 per cent sure it’s accurate and relevant in the here and now.
At the very least, various laws that affect your inheritance and how it can be distributed may have changed, and that could affect how your estate is distributed.
Ultimately, a will is there to make sure your wishes are carried out to the letter after you pass away, and to make distributing your wealth as simple as possible for your loved ones.
But an out-of-date will can significantly complicate matters and lead to entirely avoidable conflicts arising, along with potentially costly legal disputes – and this will be the last thing you want for your nearest and dearest.
So if it’s been a while since you’ve looked at your will or you’ve gone through major life events in recent years, don’t delay updating it. After all, you never know when it might be needed.