Do you have a will? You should have. It’s your way of making your wishes known and distributing your property and assets after your death and as such, it’s a very important item.
If you’re married or with a partner and own a house and have children, then you definitely should have a will. When your circumstances change and you divorce or separate from your partner, you need to remember to change your will, otherwise on your death, your ex-partner could receive everything you listed in your old will.
Things to Consider When Changing Your Will
You need to look at your assets, everything you own. After splitting with a partner, the chances are you’ll have a lot less than you did before. In some cases, it might feel that you have next to nothing, and certainly very little to leave anyone. However, you want to provide for your children in the event of your death, so you need to see your solicitor and make changes to ensure they will inherit whatever you have. Remember, too, that assets aren’t all material; they can include heirlooms, family photographs and memorabilia, which are things you want your children to have and by which they remember you.
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If, say, you’ve bought a house or flat, make sure it goes to your children (if you have more than one child, spread it equally between them. If they’re under 18, it will need to be held in trust for them until they come of age). The same is true for all your financial assets – have them held in trust until your children are old enough. This has the effect of making sure your ex-partner can’t touch them.
The chances are that under your old will, your ex would have been the executor of your estate. Obviously, you’ll need to change that. If your children are over 18, you can appoint them as executors, although consult them first. It’s a relatively simple procedure, and if you’re not sure, your solicitor will be able to advise you on the mechanics and wording.
If You Find a New Partner
Moving in with, or marrying, a new partner is another huge change in your circumstances, and one that will require a new will. However, much as you love this new person in your life (and possibly any children she already has, as well as any you may have together), don’t forget your own children. Be equitable in the way you leave your assets.
The Act of Changing Your Will
The sheer act of changing your will is an admission that things have changed and that you’ve moved on. Don’t be afraid to consult with your solicitor about the best way to do it – after all, he has the legal knowledge, and you’re paying for his expertise.
Depending on their ages, there’s no need to tell your children what you’ve done. In many instances, in fact, it’s better to say nothing. Your children might only worry that you’re going to die soon, and that one of the pillars of their lives will be removed. With older children, explaining things can be good – and important, if they’re adults can also be executors for you.