You may have made a will – but is it out of date? Here Will Aid campaign director Peter de Vena Franks explains why amendments to your existing document might be required.
More than 46% of people who made a will five years ago have had a change in circumstances that might influence their wishes, a Will Aid poll has found.
In a study carried out by our team, we asked participants if they had anything life changing happen to them since they put together their will.
Almost half said they had, listing becoming a parent, grandparent, losing a partner, getting divorced or separated, inheriting assets or getting married as reasons why the document was no longer up to date.
When it goes wrong
The importance of keeping your will up-to-date was underlined by a recent court case.
Norman Martin died in 2012 leaving his £320,000 house to his long-estranged wife, Norma Martin instead of to Joy Williams, his partner of 18 years.
He had failed to update his will following his split and Williams was forced into a long, stressful court battle.
Despite winning the claim, Ms Williams urged other people to ensure their financial matters are in order and up to date.
Speaking to media after the case, she said: “I am relieved and delighted that this case is finally over because it has taken a huge toll on me and my family.
“I was with Norman for 18 years and those were very happy times. I loved him, he loved me and I still treasure his memory.
“All I wanted was for the court to recognise that I needed to have his share of the house that was our home to provide me with some security for my future and this judgement has done just that.
“I believe that that is what Norman would have wanted for me.”
She added: “What has been traumatic for me is that this level of serious relationship is not currently recognised by the law.
“I hope my situation raises awareness for others to consider their own financial position in relation to their partner and consider whether they need to take advice to protect their each other in future.”
Make it count
This case highlights not only the importance of having a will, but keeping it up to date.
Situations and circumstances are constantly changing, and it is essential that your will is updated periodically to reflect these changes.
Some of these important considerations include:
- Changes to your family or loved ones, such as the birth of grandchildren, a divorce or a marriage, and the coming of age of children.
- Changes in assets, such as properties, businesses, or retirement plans.
- Changes to your location.
- Changes in estate and tax law so you can ensure that you are able to get the most out of your will.
- Changes in personal circumstances. You might want to include specific wishes on your funeral for example. Or perhaps you want to change the executor of your will to reflect changes in relationships.
Will Aid works
Will Aid is not just an opportunity for people without wills to make ones. It’s also a chance to review an old will and create a new one.
Since your will, which protects your most important assets after death, is one of the most important legal documents that you sign, the benefits of keeping it up-to-date far outweigh the inconvenience of the updating process
To find your nearest solicitor, visit our appointment page.