Firstly make sure you have a will in place then consider redrafting or amending whenever there are any major changes to your life or circumstances like any of the following.
Getting Married or in a Enduring Relationship
To ensure your spouse and other family members are properly considered this is an important time to ensure your will is up to date. Any will executed prior to marriage is revoked unless drafted in contemplation of marriage.
It is also critical to ensure your partner (if not formally married) is identified as a partner rather than by name alone. The status is important in ensuring they have rights which would be afforded a spouse.
Becoming Separated or Divorced
If you are separated or divorced you may be thinking quite differently about how your assets will distributed. This is a very important time to consider your will as it is possible that your assets may go directly to your ex-partner as you would have wished during your marriage.
Changes in marital status can have implications for any will executed prior to the change. In certain circumstances sections or even the entire will can become invalid.
It is important that you obtain legal advice from a testamentary lawyer if you are contemplating or have recently been marriage, or if you are separated.
You want to change how your assets are inherited
The Inheritance (Family Provision) Act requires that provisions are made for certain family members, spouses and ‘domestic partners’. This is the main source of contested estates and needs to be carefully considered in the drafting of your will.
Changes in tax or inheritance Laws
Laws are constantly changing in these areas and it is important to have your will reviewed with the new legislation in mind to be sure it is your loved ones that receive your assets. There may for example be completely different tax consequences for your beneficiaries at different times of their lives and before/after the age of 18.
Items with Sentimental Value
It may be that you have a valued item that you would like someone to have. If your wishes are not clear this item will most likely become part of your estate and be sold so that all assets can be distributed according to your will.
Changes in Executors
Choosing an executor to administer your estate is very important. As life circumstances change it may be that the appropriate executor may also need to change. Your executors may have died or your relationship with them may have changed so that you no longer consider them to be the best person to enact your wishes.
One of your beneficiaries has died
If your will does not cover an event like this the danger could be that you are not in control over where this beneficiary’s share will go. There have been occasions where grandchildren have not received an intended inheritance due a daughter in law/son in law inheriting before them.