Updating your will ensures that your possessions and property pass to the people you want to inherit them and perhaps just as importantly, that they do not pass to the people that you would not want to benefit in the event of an intestacy (if you die without making a will). Without an updated will, your family may be left in a difficult personal situation, or worse, stuck in a lawsuit disputing the old will's contents. The question then arises: how often should you update your will?
The answer is: it depends. First, it is a good idea for people owning property in The Bahamas to make a Bahamian will. This will ensure compliance with Bahamian law, as the property will most likely be distributed on death according to Bahamian law since it is in the country. Second, the Bahamian law on wills specifies situations when a will is revoked (or made ineffective), discussed below.
A Bahamian will is revoked when the testator, or person making the will, gets married. (Wills Act, Sect. 13.) There are several exceptions to this general rule, such as that when a testator makes a will that evidences his intent to get married to someone and his intent not to have his will revoked by marriage, the will is not revoked. Similarly, when a court order dissolves or annuls the testator's marriage, any gifts to his spouse in the will are no longer valid. (Wills Act, Sect. 14.)
Further, a Bahamian will is revoked by execution of another will, by another written document that is executed like a will showing intent to revoke the will, or by the testator or someone in his presence at his direction tearing up, burning, or otherwise destroying the will with the intention of revoking it. (Wills Act, Sect. 16.) If a will is revoked, it cannot be revived so that it is valid at the testator's death unless it is re-executed or a codicil is made showing intent to revive it. (Wills Act, Sect. 18.)
All this goes to show that updating a will fairly frequently to reflect life changes can help prevent disputes and problems after the testator's death. For example, if the testator gets married, he should check with his attorney regarding needed changes to the will. If the testator learns that people named in his will as executors or beneficiaries have passed away or if he changes his mind about gifts or inheritances to family and friends, he should do the same. Finally, if the testator plans on selling or disposing of property mentioned in the will, he should update it.
If you think that your will may need updating, consider speaking to an attorney about it. To find out more, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.