Did you know that August is the National Make-A-Will month in America? This month acts as a reminder for people to draft their will and be prepared for life after death because 68% of Americans don’t have a will.
But even in Singapore, it was estimated that no more than 10 to 15% of Singaporeans have a will. It’s important to know that having a well-written will is crucial to ensure that your final wishes are heard and met.
But if you already have a will, did you know that it’s important to update them after certain years or events?
Why should you update your will?
If a will is outdated, the terms of the document may no longer apply. And what this means is that your final wishes may not be executed. Your wills should be reviewed after any major changes in your life such as changes in family size or assets.
However, it is still recommended to review your wills even if there are no major life changes to ensure that your final wishes are still in accordance with what you want.
So, how often should you update your will? The trick is to ask yourself if your written will still reflect your wishes. If you feel like your needs and wants have changed, it’s high time that you review your will.
But if you don’t know whether or not to change your final wishes, the rule of thumb is to review your will once every four to five years. This is because a lot of major life events can happen during this time and you would want to ensure that your wishes are up-to-date.
Examples of major life changes
1) Getting separated, divorced or married
Wedding, divorce or separation are all reasons for you to review your will and update your beneficiaries. In Singapore, your will is immediately revoked once you get married. However, it will not be revoked upon divorce or separation.
When you marry, you may choose to sign a mutual will with your spouse to safeguard the interest of your family members. However, in the event of a divorce, your will would not be revoked and your spouse, a beneficiary named in your will, would still have legal claims to inherit your assets. Therefore, it is advisable to review your will if you go through marriage or divorce.
2) About to have a child or grandchild
There are many changes in personal circumstances that you need to take note of. For instance, if you are expecting a child or a grandchild, it is advisable to review your will because you may wish to include them in it.
When your child is still underage, you will want to name the child’s guardian to ensure that they will still be taken care of in the event of your passing. Or if your child is of legal age, you may also want to make them the executor of your will instead. You must review your will after every major life change.
3) Change in residence
If you move out to another country, you should consult with a lawyer from that country and see if your will is still valid. You may need to change your will to ensure its validity. Besides, rather than just adding on to your current will, it is advisable to create a new will that is per the laws of the country.
4) Death of a beneficiary
Death is unavoidable and cannot be overlooked. If your beneficiary passes away, you must review your will and consider what should be done about the assets that you have allocated to the deceased beneficiary. You must also ensure that your executor will be able to distribute your assets and administer your estate accordingly.
5) Death of executor/guardian
Executors make sure that your assets are properly distributed after your passing. However, if your executor or guardian passes away, you will need to review your will and name someone else as an executor. This is because, without a capable executor, you may face multiple complications concerning your will.
6) Change in asset
You should also review your will if you experience any significant increase or decrease in your asset. For example, if you start a new business, you may inherit a large sum of money and, therefore, may need to reflect your financial standing in your will. Changes in assets must always be reflected in your will.
7) Change of religion
In Singapore, if a person passes away without a valid will, the Intestate Succession Act is used to distribute the deceased’s assets. However, this rule does not apply to Muslims. The distribution of property or assets of a deceased Muslim in Singapore is governed by Muslim law and the Syariah Court. This is why it’s important to review your will after a change of religion—to secure its validity.
8) Not in a good relationship with the appointed executor/guardian
Major life changes are not always due to physical circumstances, sometimes they can also be because of personal preferences. For instance, if you have grown apart from your appointed executor or guardian, this is also considered a major life event.
The executor or guardian plays an important role in your asset distribution, therefore, if he or she is uncontactable or is not in a favourable relationship with you, you may review your will and make the necessary changes.
There are many areas to consider when drafting or updating a will. To avoid any future complications, it is advisable to consult with a professional. If you want to review your will, get in touch with us at Probate Enterprise.