Making a Last Will and Testament is one of the most important things you will ever do. It will give you control over what happens to your estate once you die and in addition, it provides legal protection for your loved ones.
However it is not as simple as making your Will, putting it in the cupboard and forgetting all about it. If you do take this approach, you may find that by the time you die your Will is completely out of date and could exclude loved ones you wanted to inherit from your estate and perhaps worse still include those you didn’t.
Therefore, it is hugely important to understand how to take care of your Will, so that by the time you die it still reflects your wishes.
The first common mistake once a Will has been made is that it gets put into a cupboard and forgotten about. If you have not told anyone that you have made a Will this can cause serious problems in the future.
If your Will isn’t found, you will be deemed to have died intestate, which means that your estate is divided up by the law of intestacy, with no reference to your own wishes. Therefore, when you make a Will, it is important to tell people close to you that you have made a Will and also where it is stored.
You should also consider where to store your Will so that it is safe. A solicitor could store a copy of your Will at their offices, often in a safe able to withstand any fire or flood risks. You could also retain a copy of the Will at home, but bearing in mind the complications mentioned above, it is not advisable to store the original copy at your home.
Once your Will has been made, it is important to keep it up to date, particularly if you get married, divorced or have children. In all of these circumstances, there are real implications to not updating your Will, such as an ex-spouse inheriting all of your estate when she has already remarried. This can and does happen, so keeping your Will up to date is critical. This can be done quickly and simply with a codicil for small updates, or for some of the larger life events it may be necessary to make a new Will. Your solicitor will usually gladly discuss any changes to your circumstances over the telephone and advise you whether your Will needs updating.
What is crucial with updates and new Wills is that they remain valid in the eyes of the law. Any invalid changes may make the Will void, meaning again that you will be classed as dying intestate.
One thing is certain, you should treat your Will with care and respect and not just forget about it, as this could cause significant repercussions after your death.
This information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and each relationship breakdown requires careful consideration in our view by a fully qualified Solicitor before decisions are made and before you embark on a certain course of action.
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