According to the government website you should review your will every 5 years. With 59% of British adults not having a will you may think just by having one you’re doing well. However it’s just as important to have an up to date will as it is to write one in the first place, so if there already is one how do i make changes to my will?
If you have gone through some major life changes it’s important to ensure you change your will to reflect your new circumstances. Having an out of date will can cause complications in the probate application and administration process and making it take longer and more expensive.
Change your will using a Codicil
If you want to make a small change to your will you can write a codicil. A codicil is an additional document that modifies your original will. You can use it to change, explain or revoke any part of your will. It is signed and witnessed in the same way a will is.
You should not alter the original will this could risk it being made void.
You do not need to use the same person who wrote your original will and you do not need to use the same witnesses as you used in your original will. However you should not use someone as a witness if they or their husband/wife/civil partner are benefiting from the codicil, it will make the codicil invalid.
Some circumstances in which you would want to change you will are,
• Getting married
Any will you have made becomes void when you get married. Upon your death your estate will be distributed according to the government’s rules of intestacy. These rules may not reflect how you wish your estate to be distributed so it’s important to make sure you have a valid will that states how you wish your state to be distributed.
• Getting Divorced or separated.
Getting divorced or separated doesn’t make your will invalid like getting married does. However you may wish to change who will benefit from your will once you separate. For example if your ex-partner is written in as your sole beneficiary you may wish this.
• Having a child.
Ensuring that you children are protected and care for is extremely important. If you have a child or children you will need to name guardians and express what provisions you want in place in case one or both parent passes away.
• You buy or sell a significant asset e.g. a property
If you buy a new property it will help to express how you want this property distributed upon you death being ambiguous about assets can mean they may end up with someone you had not intended. Having sold or no longer owning a property that is specifically mentioned in your will can render that section and subsequent corresponding sections invalid which can lead to misinterpretation and disputes.
• An executor or beneficiary named in your will dies.
If a named executor dies you should update your will and replace them to ensure that there will be someone you trust administering your Estate. You do not want to leave your estate with no executor which can lead to complications and disputes. If a named beneficiary dies you may want to redistribute their inheritance to someone else.
If you wish to make a lot or significant changes to your will it would be better to write a new will to ensure everything is made clear according to your wishes. Having too many or a complicated codicil could cause problems in the administration process.