There are a number of events which may make a will invalid.
It is, therefore, important that your will is kept under review to ensure that it can be used correctly when the time comes and your wishes are carried out as you intended them.
6 events that may make a will invalid
When you die, the person or people dealing with your financial affairs will usually need to apply for a grant of probate before any assets or money can be released.
Once probate has been granted your will becomes a public document and anyone can pay a fee to look at it.
This can open up the potential for challenges.
Some of the main reasons a will could be challenged and deemed invalid include:
- Subsequent valid will – A will is not considered valid if it is not your last will and testament at the time of death. Any subsequent valid version which postdates the original will supersede it.
- Marriage – If you marry after making a will the will automatically revokes unless you have specifically made clear in the will that it was written in anticipation of the marriage.
- Not correctly signed off – The will is not signed, dated and witnessed correctly. You must sign and date your will in front of two independent witnesses who must also sign.
- Lack of mental capacity – You did not have mental capacity (and therefore lacked understanding) to make a will at the time it was set up.
- Dependent left out of will – If you leave someone who is deemed dependent on you out of your will without a clause specifically stating this then this could be open to challenge by them or their family.
- Death of a beneficiary – Where a beneficiary has passed away since the will was made, in the absence of any updated will, the bequest may be invalidated. Whilst this would not necessarily render the whole will invalid but it could leave parts or all of it open to question.
Here is an example of problems that could incur if you have not updated your will after the death of a beneficiary.
Tony, aged 75, passes away unmarried with no children, with an estate valued at £600,000. He had three siblings, Mark, Chloe and Christine. Unfortunately, Christine passed away in a car accident a few years prior to Tony.
Scenario 1 – Tony’s will states that he leaves his entire estate in equal shares to his surviving siblings. In this instance, there is no problem, Mark and Chloe take £300,000 apiece.
Scenario 2 – Tony’s will states that he leaves one third of his estate to Mark, one third to Chloe and one third to Christine. Here we may have a problem. Mark and Chloe will get their £200,000 apiece.
But what happens to the £200,000 earmarked for Christine? The answer depends on the exact terms of the will.
Scenario 3 – Christine is Tony’s favourite sibling and the whole estate was left to her. This would effectively invalidate the will. The bequest would not become part of Christine’s own estate under UK law.
All of this could have been avoided if Tony had kept his will up to date.
The importance of regular reviews so as not to make a will invalid
Hopefully you can clearly see it makes sense to review your will on a regular basis. I would say annually and whenever there is a death in the family or a major life event like marriage, having children or grandchildren.
If you really want to protect your estate and the inheritance you leave behind then you should also consider setting up your own family trusts.
Trusts could help ensure you keep your wealth in the family bloodline with more control over what happens to your wealth and avoiding it being lost on divorce or to care fees.
You could also save Inheritance Tax too.
If you want to understand how to secure your legacy and your family’s future then please schedule a no obligation free 15-minute call.
Stock market linked investments and any income from them, can fall as well as rise and is not guaranteed. Any figures quoted are for illustrative purposes and should not be taken as a forecast or guarantee. Past performance should not be seen as an indication of future returns and clients may get back less than they have invested.