The shocking death rates from the COVID-19 pandemic have shone a light on one’s own mortality, leading many into considering getting our affairs into order, should the unthinkable happen.
Solicitors have reported an increase in Will writing enquiries across the country, as people realise that if they were to die without a valid Will, you will have died ‘intestate’ which means the law will decide how your property and estate is distributed when you pass away.
Probate solicitors in Surrey will explain that not only is it important to make a Will but also to regularly review it to ensure it reflects any change in circumstances, particularly during such troubled times.
There are many reasons why you may want to change your Will:
- you may have fallen out with an intended beneficiary;
- divorce or separation may mean amendments are required;
- new people may come into your life who you want to leave assets to; or
- intended beneficiaries under your Will may have died.
Usually, if a beneficiary dies before you, the beneficiary’s gift will fail and they will not inherit anything from your estate. Whatever you had hoped to leave them will revert to your residuary estate to be redistributed, meaning you need to make a provision in your Will if you want to redirect the gift in such a situation.
This would state that if the intended beneficiary dies before you then alternative beneficiaries will receive the gift instead.
It is recommended to review your Will at least every five years and after any significant changes in your life, such as:
- if you get married, separate or divorce;
- have a child, adopt or have a grandchild;
- if you move house; or
- if the people named in your Will as executors or guardians to your children have died.
Making changes to your Will
You cannot make changes to your Will after it has been signed and witnesses. Minor amendments can be made using a codicil, which is a legal document that alters part of your Will, leaving the rest intact. The codicil is separate from the Will and should be stored alongside it.
You might want to use a codicil for such matters as changing executors, removing a beneficiary, or changing the amount you want to leave to a beneficiary, adding a new beneficiary or updating your funeral wishes.
If you want to make major changes to your Will, your best option is to draw up a completely new Will.
You should state in the new Will that it revokes all previous Wills and codicils, and then you should then destroy your old Will by burning it or shredding it.
Why not take time to get your Will written, or review your existing one to ensure that it is all up to date, and have the peace of mind that comes knowing your affairs are in order should the worst ever happen to you.
Get in touch today if you’d like more information about our Will writing and probate services.