Do I need to change it at all? It can be hard enough to organise your time to make a will in the first place but only if your life hadn’t changed at all could you rely on those initial wishes indefinitely. Even if your own circumstances are the same, the law itself may have altered.
Surely things are changing constantly? I can’t keep altering my will all the time. This is why the will should anticipate the most important changes when you first make it. You should cover the possibility of your main beneficiary dying before you, for example, and include an alternative choice of executor. Your will should make sense even if your estate changes in value – but within limits. You can only cover so many possibilities in the initial will.
What changes should make me reconsider my Will? If any important beneficiary does die before you, you should review the will anyway, even this is already covered. You may be surprised how much this major event changes your ideas. Your executors die or tell you that they cannot act or they plan to move away. Your estate becomes very much greater or smaller, you dispose of an asset left to a particular beneficiary, you become aware of changes in how Inheritance Tax (IHT) will affect your estate. Your own child divorces and you fear their spouse will claim on the inheritance.
Perhaps you yourself divorce. Your ex-spouse no longer benefits but the will itself remains valid and no longer makes an effective disposition of your estate. Perhaps you marry or remarry; your will is automatically revoked unless expressly made in anticipation of that particular marriage.
So how often should I look at my Will? Your will is more than just something for others to follow after your death, it’s part of your own lifetime planning. As a rough guide you should review the will every five years whether or not you have any changes in mind. At the very least you should be considering whether the value of your estate is the same and if your intended beneficiaries will still benefit in the same way.