How to Update a Will

Having a legally binding and up-to-date Will is the best way to ensure your wishes are followed after your death.

If your circumstances have changed recently, you might have wondered if you should update the terms set out in your Will. You may also have questions about how the process of changing a Will works.

In this guide, we’ve explained how often you should update your Will as well as detailing the two main methods for making changes. Keep reading to find out more or get in touch with our friendly advisors for advice that’s tailored to you.

How often should you update a Will?

It’s recommended that you look at updating your Will every five years, or after any major life event. This could include:

  • An executor of your Will passing away
  • Getting divorced or separating from a partner
  • Getting married – this will cancel any existing Wills, so you’ll need to make a new one
  • Having a child
  • Moving home

When it’s time to think about updating your Will, there will be two options available to you. The first option would be to add what’s called a ‘codicil’ to your existing Will. And the second would involve writing a new Will altogether.

Which of these methods apply to you will ultimately depend on the number of changes you need to make. An experienced solicitor will be able to help you choose the right option based on your situation. So you don’t need to worry if you’re not sure.

What is a codicil to a Will?

If you’d like to make a small change or addition to your Will, your best option will be writing up a codicil.

A codicil is a legally binding document that can be used to make specific changes to an existing Will, without affecting the rest of the terms laid out.

Most people will use codicils to add a new clause to an existing Will – such as leaving a new gift for a beneficiary. But they can also be used to remove clauses from the original document. For instance, if you no longer want to leave assets to a certain beneficiary, you can remove them with a codicil.

Codicils should be treated as an addition to your Will, and the two documents should be kept together at all times (but not attached). If your codicil is not easy to find after your death, it could be missed by your loved ones and your estate may not be distributed as you’d like it to be.

You should also make sure your codicil is legally valid. To do this, you’ll need to ensure the document is signed in front of a witness and dated. You don’t need to use the same witness as you did for your original Will, but you will need to choose someone who is not a beneficiary.

There is no limit to how many codicils you can add to your Will. But making too many could result in confusion for your family and friends when you pass away. If you need to make more changes to your Will, writing up a new one might be a better option.

When to write a new Will

If you have multiple changes to make to your Will, or one large alteration, writing a new Will is often the best route to go down.

You might consider making a new Will if you’d like to:

  • Create a trust
  • Change multiple beneficiaries
  • Update your guardian selection (if you have children)

It’s important that when you make a new Will, you state that this new version will officially cancel out any previously written up Wills – making them invalid.

You’ll then need to destroy your existing Wills by shredding or burning them. This will help to ensure that your loved ones are not left with multiple documents, which could cause uncertainty or disputes amongst family members.

After making a new Will, make sure your executor is made aware of it. We would also suggest telling your executor where your new Will is going to be kept, so that they know where to find it when the time comes.

Can I change my Will without a solicitor?

While it is possible to update your Will yourself, we would suggest seeking the services of a legal expert to make sure each of the changes you make are legally valid.

If it has been a number of years since you originally wrote your Will, the process could become more complicated and you may need to have your estate revalued. This is where an experienced Wills and probate solicitor could help you.

Our solicitors are experts in this area and they can offer you the peace of mind that all your affairs will be handled as you wish after you’re gone.

To find out more about our services, get in touch on the number at the top of the screen or start your enquiry online.

Get in touch today to discuss your requirements 08005677866

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