It can be essential to change a Will in many circumstances.  There will be times when you wish change your Will to accommodate minor changes in circumstances.

So why, when and how can you change a Will?

Why change a Will?

Our Peace of Mind Service reminds review a Will briefly each year.   But when a major change happens – birth death, marriage, divorce it is really important to review a Will – even if a change turns out not to be required.

Some of these events may well change a Will to the extent that it is no longer valid – marriage and civil partnership being the prime example of when a change to a Will is urgent and essential.

Strangely, divorce doesn’t effect a change to a Will until it is all over and you have obtained your Decree Absolute – which is often neglected.   So the wife or husband you have been nearly divorced from for 20 years might still inherit under a Will you haven’t changed or under the Rules of Intestacy.  More on Divorce here.

The time to change a Will is long before divorce proceedings start and as soon as the separation looks like being permanent.  Contact us promptly.

When you get married, or register a civil partnership, any Will that you may have made previously is automatically cancelled unless it was made specifically with that event in mind and records it in the Will.   If you haven’t taken such precautions, it is possible to change a Will with a special codicil before the event, or to republish the Will afterwards.

Change a Will: Birth of a Child.

If you have a child after writing your Will, they will not automatically change a Will to become a beneficiary you have named your other children as beneficiaries.  In most cases, it is our practice NOT to name children as individuals.  That way, it is not necessary to change a Will each time a child is born.    This is not  always possible if children come from different relationships. However, it is always better to check, which is exactly what our Peace of Mind Service  is for.

It is our experience that many children are already teenagers before parents change a Will to include them, which is rather defeating the objective of sound legal planning! Children should be included before they are born, or as soon as they are born at worst!

How to change a Will

To change a Will, you must not just make changes to an existing Will. Even if you don’t manage to invalidate the Will, such alterations are assumed to have been made after the Will was signed. Therefore they do not form part of the original valid Will.

The only two safe ways to change a  Will are:

  • making a codicil to change a Will which is generally fine (it is a special sort of P.S.), or
  • make a new Will – always best, but not cheapest!

Change a Will – a New Will or Codicil?

Should the change to a Will be of minor importance and fairly simple, you can use a codicil to change a Will.

If the change is important or complex you should really make a new Will. If you wish to make several changes, big or small, it is best to make a new Will.

Here are some examples of what is generally the appropriate way to change a Will.

1)     Change your main beneficiary  NEW WILL

2)     Creating a Trust perhaps for a new child NEW WILL

3)     Removing a living beneficiary – Codicil if a modest amount, NEW WILL if major.  A Codicil could get lost.  If there is the slightest possibility of a dispute, make a NEW WILL to avoid enriching lawyers with a dispute.

4)     Increasing or reducing the value of a modest cash gift.  CODICIL.

5)     Appointing a new Executor or Trustee or Guardian – Codicil unless it is liable to be contentious, in which case a NEW WILL is safer.

6)     Changing Funeral Wishes – best way is toi buy a Pre Paid Funeral Plan.   Wishes in the Will need not be followed, but is its important to make your wishes clear to avoid arguments.   We offer our clients a free expression of wish form for funerals.  But you can use a Codicil.

7) Several amendments to change a will. NEW WILL.

Contact us to sort things out HERE.

Change a Will.