In Scotland, there are two ways in which you can change and update your Will. The first is by making a Codicil, which is a supplement which specifies changes you wish you make, whilst leaving the rest of your Will intact. The second is to have a new Will written, in turn revoking your previous Will. Which is the better option will depend on what changes and updates you wish to make and your solicitor will guide you on the best option for your individual circumstances.
But when should you be reviewing and updating your Will?
Every 5 years
It makes good sense to sit down and review your Will from time-to-time. This helps ensure your wishes for how your estate is shared are still the same, and that you have everything that makes up your estate included. It will also give you the opportunity to check who you have listed as Beneficiaries and Executors.
When you tie the knot, or are indeed in any kind of long-term committed relationship, it is important to have your Will updated to contain your spouse, should that be something you wish to be included.
Many people assume that the exchange of vows means you are automatically entitled to your partner’s estate, should the worst happen, however this is not the case. In Scotland, marriage does not invalidate an existing Will, so if you have previously had a Will before meeting or including your significant other, and that is something you would now like to do, get in touch with your solicitor to see about updating your Will.
It’s also worth noting that on the other end of the spectrum, divorce does have an effect on your Will, should your marriage come to an end. Following the Succession (Scotland) Act 2016, it is now presumed that people do not want an ex-partner to benefit from their estate. However, unless you have another living Executor named in your Will, things can still become complicated, so it’s always worth updating your Will with a replacement Executor post-divorce.
Buying a house
Buying a property is one of the biggest investments that most people will ever make and as such, it will usually become a large part of your estate. With that in mind, it is important that when you purchase a property you make your wishes clear for how it will factor into your estate, and how it is dealt with upon your death. This can include who the property is left to, or how the share of a property will be divided between family/children.
This also applies with any buy-to-let properties you may have. It’s not uncommon for investment landlords to leave individual properties to each of their children, in which case an update to your Will upon the purchase or sale of any properties is a must, to avoid any confusion as to who gets what.
Having a Will in place as a parent is a must. This will not only stipulate your wishes for your estate and how/when your children will benefit from it upon your death, but for children under 16 it will also specify your wishes for their care.
Both the mother and father (if named on the birth certificate) have parental rights of a child and as such, would automatically have guardianship of children under 16 upon the death of the other parent. However, in modern times family life is not always well suited to this arrangement. Single parents, step-parents, parents who have remarried, or those who have children by different partners may not wish for the other parent to automatically be granted guardianship. As such you should always have a Will which states your chosen guardian, and who would care for your child(ren) in the event of your death.
For those fortunate enough to have a straightforward family setup, it’s also always worth appointing an additional backup guardian who isn’t the other parent, just to cover the unlikely event that both parents die before the child(ren) turns 16.
And don’t forget to update your Will if you have any additional children, to make sure they are included too.
Death of Beneficiaries or Executors
If you have named someone as a Beneficiary or Executor of your Will and they die before you, you will likely want to review what now happens within your Will to reflect this. In terms of a Beneficiary, you may want to review the share of your estate to the remaining Beneficiaries, or name a replacement Beneficiary. And with Executors, you should name a new Executor in their place, unless you already have more than 2 other living Executors still named.
This also applies with Beneficiaries and Executors who you may no longer want listed in your Will, due to a change in circumstances or relationship.
If you are ready to make a Will or update your existing Will, get in touch with Aileen at Beveridge Philp and Ross today. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0131 554 6244.