Most people are aware of the need to have a will in place, but the importance of it being reviewed regularly is often overlooked.

Circumstances change and it’s surprising how quickly a will can become outdated, so if you made your will more than three years ago, then it would be wise to have a think about what has changed between then and now.

Clare Rogers, who is a wills specialist at Woodcocks Haworth and Nuttall Solicitors, explores five good reasons why you should consider updating your will.

1. Your family circumstances have changed

If your will was made prior to marriage, then it is most likely the case that it is now invalid, as getting married voids any existing will. Conversely, while a divorce won’t necessarily invalidate your will, it does prevent your former spouse from benefiting under the will.

Perhaps you are now cohabiting with someone, in which case you will need to think very carefully about whether you want your partner to inherit on your death as this will not automatically be the case. Becoming a parent or grandparent may also mean you want to ensure those children are provided for in your will.

2. You have suffered a bereavement

If you have lost a loved one, then it’s important to consider how this may impact your will. If they were named as a beneficiary, then you will need to think about whether you want their gift to go to someone else. If they have children of their own, you should bear in mind that it will not always pass automatically to them.

If someone you had chosen to be an executor or guardian for your young children has died, it’s vital you appoint a replacement too.

3. Your assets have changed

If you have moved house or purchased another property, you should really be seeking advice on how this could impact your will.

Perhaps you have purchased property in joint names, in which case it is very important to speak to your solicitor and make sure you understand what will happen to your share of the property when you die. Or, if your wealth in general has increased or decreased significantly, then you need to consider if changes need to be made to ensure any gifts in your will remain proportionate and relevant to your assets.

4. Changes to tax legislation

Tax rules are constantly changing and it’s likely new policies have been introduced since you made your last will. Extra inheritance tax relief is now available if you’re passing your family home on to your children, step-children or grandchildren, although it doesn’t automatically apply in every case and it’s important that your will is worded in such a way to ensure the extra allowance can be claimed.

It is well worth reviewing your will regularly so your solicitor can advise you of any tax changes and additional benefits that may apply to you.

5. To prevent a dispute

In cases where something has happened to make you question whether you want to remove a person from your will, you should think carefully what your reasons are for removing them and keep a record of those reasons alongside your will.

Maybe you have agreed to give financial help to a family member, in which case you will need to decide whether the money must be repaid to your estate on your death.

According to the Ministry of Justice, the number of contested will cases continues to rise, so if you’re worried that someone might try to contest your will or you want to avoid a family dispute arising, then you should share your concerns with your solicitor who can advise how such a situation can be avoided.

Clare Rogers is an associate solicitor based at WHN Solicitors’ Accrington office. Specialising in wills, trusts, powers of attorney, Court of Protection applications, probate and all aspects relating to the administration of estates, Clare’s expertise lies in helping clients ensure their financial, property and other assets are passed on in accordance with their wishes after they die.

If you need help preparing or updating a will, our specialist solicitors are here to help. Please contact Clare on 01254 236221 or by email