As life goes on, relationships between people change. Relationships with people you left gifts to in your initial will may have deteriorated, you may no longer wish to leave them anything, upon updating your will you can remove them.
New people who you may previously have had no relationship with may now be a close friend; you may wish to update your will to include them.
If a beneficiary of your old will dies, you may wish to allocate the gift you intended to give them to another person.
If your estate experiences an increase or decrease in value, you may also wish to change your will accordingly.
If you have sold or given away an asset you intended to give to someone in the initial will then you should update the will if you wish to make sure that person receives something.
If, since the drafting of the first will, you have acquired something that you know a certain friend or family member would like, you would need to change the will to ensure that person received the gift.
If you have moved to another country, you should seek advice as to whether the probate process is the same and if the will you have drafted is still legally binding in the new country.
Tax laws are always changing, as other conditions change so too will how the gifts in the will are taxed. It is advised that the will is adjusted to accommodate such things.
What to Consider when Adjusting your Will
Are there people you wish to receive things whose names are not mentioned, or are there names mentioned that you would rather leave nothing to? Have the beneficiaries’ circumstances changed to the point where a gift would be better suited in another persons’ hands? How do you feel about how the estate is going to be divided? If you are still satisfied with your will, you need not involve a solicitor at this point, but if you wish to change it in any way, it is advised that you would seek legal advice to ensure the will is satisfactorily altered.
It is advised you revisit your will and adjust it accordingly every 3 years, or if the circumstances of your estate change suddenly. You may have made certain bequests to people of property or assets that are no longer owned by you.
Foreign Assets; If you have property abroad, it is advisable that you would make a separate will in that jurisdiction. For example, if you are the owner of a property in France and currently live in Ireland then it is advisable to not only create a will in Ireland, but to also make one in France. It would be wise to talk to a lawyer about the succession laws in that separate jurisdiction to ensure your dependants are provided for or are not surprised by tax bills that can arise when they inherit the foreign property.
Death of a Spouse; After the death of your spouse, or life partner you should revisit your will especially if it was not drafted referring to the possibility of your spouse predeceasing you. Update your will with your final wishes as your previous will may have left your assets to your spouse or life partner only. Now you may need to reconsider how you may wish to distribute your assets. If you have more than one child you may wish to divide your assets between some or all of your children. It is not uncommon to leave some children out that have already been well provided for. You may have a closer relationship with one or two than others so you may choose to exclude someone, one child may be your carer. A parent does not have an obligation to benefit a child. It is important that your solicitor would note your specific wishes and reasons for exclusion.
Inheritance; You have come into an inheritance that you may not have considered when making your will. It may be somebody that you wish to bequeath to someone specific so updating your will in that instance is necessary.
Charitable Giving; You may wish to include a charity in your updated will. If a certain charity has helped you or someone you know since you drafted your original will you may want to bequeath something.
Tax Law Changes; You may have left a bequest to someone up to a sum that will not be taxable for inheritance tax. The threshold to which they can inherit may be increased and you may wish to increase the size of the bequest. Updating a will to increase or decrease a bequest to take into consideration a person’s inheritance tax threshold is very common.
Moving Jurisdiction; You may have moved jurisdictions or countries. Updating your will to the country you reside in is important. Having a will in place in the country you have left some assets in should also be considered.
Children and Grandchildren; Your children or grandchildren may be over the age of 18 now so you may wish to update earlier wills put in place where you made a bequest for them to be held in a trust. Once they are over 18, the asset can be legally given to them without the need for a trust or 2 trustees to administer the assets.