A Will is a very complex and important document, there are certain parameters that need to be met to ensure it is legally valid. If you need to amend your will you can’t just go ahead and change it without following specific steps.
When should I amend my will
It is recommended you should review and update your Will every five years and after any significant life change. These could be things such as:
- Getting divorced
A divorce doesn’t revoke your Will, although in England and Wales your ex-partner wouldn’t benefit from it.
- Getting married
Marriage invalidates any existing Will you may have unless the new arrangement is specified in the Will.
- Having children
If your existing Will names your current children and you have more children, they will not be included.
- Moving house
You should review your Will if you move home to ensure it takes account of the new property and to check that it is not affected by the disposal of the old property.
- If any of the executors or beneficiaries die
You need to make the decision about what happens to their portion of the estate.
- After a significant financial change
You may wish to split your estate differently if you have a sizeable financial change, such as coming into or losing a lot of money.
Can I amend my existing Will
If you already have a Will in place and it has been signed and witnesses, that document cannot be changed. The only way to adjust a pre-existing will is to do an official alteration called a codicil. A codicil is a document that allows you to make amendments to an existing will instead of re-writing an already existing version. It must be created in the same way as a Will and signed by you with two witnesses.
It is recommended codicils are only used for minor changes because they can make executing your Will more complicated when you die. A codicil must be kept with your original Will but not attached to it. Modifying your Will in any way will invalidate it and it will no longer be legally binding.
If the codicil is lost, then this can cause the changes cited within it not to be valid.
If you are changing several parts of your Will, it is recommended to write a new Will entirely as it is a sure fast way that your wishes are clear. There is no limit to the number of codicils made to a Will, but they should be numbered to ensure they are all taken into account.
At Sovereign Planning, we recommend that you create a new Will if you have any changes to make. The benefits of creating a new will outweigh the risks, and the cost difference is minimal. There is also a useful article on the gov.uk that gives advice on Will changes.
Writing a new will
If you decide to write a new Will as your old one does not represent your current wishes, there are a few things to do.
- Destroy the pre-existing Will by either ripping/shredding it or burning it. It is important that it looks like it is destroyed purposefully and not accidentally.
- Ensure your latest will states that it revokes any previous wills
- If you have Wills in more than one country, make sure your new Will doesn’t revoke the others.
- Ensure your executor knows where your new Will is.
If you would like help in will writing or have questions about changing your existing Will, you can contact us for advice. Our helpful team of experts at Sovereign Planning can advise you with your last will and testament, powers of attorney, probate, trusts, funeral plans and much more.