It is vital that we all make a will, although many of us overlook the fact that it is also important to update your will on a regular basis. There are a number of different changes to your circumstances that you may experience during your lifetime, and many of them result in the contents of your will becoming outdated.
Depending on the country you live in you may find that different states have different rules with regard to any estate taxes you may have to pay, and the way in which your property is handled after your death. For this reason, if you do move into another area, or indeed you move to another country, it is wise to have an experienced professional take a look at your will to make sure that you comply with the law in the area in which you now live.
Throughout our lifetime we make new friends and new family members are born. In general, if you stipulate in your will that your estate should be divided equally amongst your children this will include any children you may have after your will is written and signed. However, it doesn’t hurt if you have a new addition to your family to double check that the wording of your will is clear, and not open to interpretation, in order to avoid misunderstandings later on. Similarly, you may have made a new friend, or have become reunited with a long-lost family member, who you now wish to add to your will; perhaps you wish to leave them a specific item of jewellery, or an important family heirloom. If this is the case then it is important that you make a formal amendment to your will to ensure that the individual receives the asset after you have gone.
Unfortunately, marriages fail and many of us get divorced, the majority of whom may not wish to leave any of our assets to our former partner, or to take the risk that they may decide to legally contest our will. If this is the case then it definitely pays to consult with a solicitor if you divorce your spouse after you have signed your will. Your ex-wife or husband may still decide to contest your will, but an experienced solicitor will be able to take the necessary steps to ensure that they are unsuccessful.
If you are married and your spouse passes away before you do then you can make changes to your will that will ensure that your assets are distributed differently. You can word your will initially to state that should your spouse pass away before you then your assets should be passed to someone else, but for extra peace of mind you may wish to review the contents of your will should your spouse pass away. In addition, your change in circumstances may make you feel differently about the way in which you choose to distribute your assets.