A guide to updating your Will
If you are contemplating changing your Will, then it usually means a significant event has occurred in your life. This could be a marriage, a re-marriage, a divorce, new children, grand-children, children from a new relationship, or the loss of a loved one.
The first thing you will need to understand is: do I need a new Will or can I just have my existing Will amended?
Either way, the good news is that either creating a new Will or updating a Will are fairly simple to achieve with the right professional guidance and support. It then comes down to what you want to change in the Will, the volume and complexity of the change you are making and ultimately, what you want to make sure happens by making this change.
Are you simply trying to update your Estate Planning, or do you need to write a new legal Estate Plan?
What you should never do is alter the original Will document, write on it, add amendments to it or change it in any way, as this will make it invalid.
Do I need to change my Will?
A well drafted Will should ensure that the vast majority of future life changes have been predicted and allowed for through the crafting of the Will. However, it is always a good idea to review your Will periodically to ensure it still does what you originally intended it to do.
The key triggers to start a Will Review are:
- You re-marry. A marriage revokes a Will in England and Wales (excludes Scotland)
- You get divorced. A divorce will not revoke a Will
- A Beneficiary or Executor named in the Will has died or needs changing
- You want to change who receives what, or to add an additional legacy
- Additional children, grandchildren or stepchildren have come into the family
- Your Will has already been amended with a Codicil and your wishes are becoming unclear or could be mis-interpreted by the volume and complexity of the changes made
Should I make a new Will or amend my existing Will?
This will depend on the level and nature of the changes you want to make.
Significant changes are almost always better served through the creation of a new Will. When you make a new Will, you are automatically revoking any existing Will.
By using a document called a Codicil, small changes such as changing your Executors, or adding a legacy, can be made by simply updating your existing Will.
What is a Codicil to a Will?
A Codicil is a legal document that is attached to an existing Will that describes a change or changes to a particular clause or clauses in the Will and clearly refers to the Will it relates to.
A Codicil allows an existing Will to be amended instead of being completely re-drafted.
To be legal and valid, it must be signed and witnessed in the same way as a Will. It is important to note that Spouses or Civil Partners who benefit from a gift in the Codicil must not be used as Witnesses, or any gift detailed in the Codicil will be invalid.
It is vital that the Codicil is kept with the original Will once completed. If lost, concerns could arise about the validity of the original Will and make it susceptible to being challenged.
While a Codicil can be used for changing anything from a single word to many different sections of your Will, we recommend that you only utilise it when you want to make very small changes like amending an Executor.
Bigger changes actioned through a Codicil can make sorting out your Will far more complicated when you die.
The primary benefit of using a Codicil over having a new Will created is one of cost. It can be more cost effective to have an existing Will amended through a Codicil if the changes are minor, when compared to the costs of having a new Will written.
We always recommend that you tell your Executors that you are updating your Will with a Codicil and where they can find your Will and Codicil documents when the time comes.
What should I consider when writing a new Will?
Replace an existing Will with a new Will is usually a far more efficient and effective way to update your Will, for anything other than minor changes.
Making a new Will provides you with the opportunity to consider what you want to happen with your Estate when you die from a fresh perspective, while still carrying over those wishes you liked in your original Will.
It is the perfect time to think about any significant life events that have occurred since you last drafted your Will and if those events have changed what you now want to happen. Have your children married and divorced for example? Maybe they have married again and have new partners and dependants you would now like to see included in your Will.
Whatever the changes you ultimately make, there are some points to consider as part of the process of making a new Will:
- Your new Will must clearly state that it revokes any old Wills and Codicils.
- To avoid any confusion about Wills & Codicils, destroy your old Will and any copies that might exist.
- Tell your Executors that you have a new Will and where they can find it when the time comes. Ask them to return any copies of the old Will and Codicils if you gave them out previously. Give them a copy of the new one if that’s what you choose to do.
- Make sure your new Will does not inadvertently revoke Wills you may have put in place to cover property and assets in other parts of the world.
Who can help me change my Will?
Our Will Review Service provides an opportunity for you to have your Will and any other existing Estate Planning documents comprehensively reviewed by one of our professional expert Advisers.
If you are considering making changes to your Will, we can help you to understand the best solution for you, be that a Codicil or a new Will.
Your complimentary 30 Minute Will Review Meeting can take place over the Phone, by Video Call or at our Offices. Whatever is most convenient for you.
Why is a Will Review so important?
Find out why a Will Review Meeting is so important, watch our short video here.
What Will Writing Services can Redwood help me with?
We have a comprehensive range of Will Writing Services available, from our Mirror Wills; to a fully bespoke individual Estate Planning Service that can include Protective Wills, Trusts, Guardianship, Lasting Power of Attorney (LPAs), Inheritance Tax Planning and Long Term Care Fee Planning, designed to give you the peace of mind that your family members and loved ones are protected when you die.