We’re very often asked the following questions: ‘How do I know if my Will is valid?’; ‘How long does my Will stay valid for?’ and; ‘Can I make any changes to my Will?’ The following article will address these questions as well as some rumours that we’ve heard over the past few weeks regarding the validity of Wills.
‘How do I know my Will is valid?’
As soon as your Will has been signed correctly it becomes a valid legal document. You must also have two witnesses present with you as you sign the Will. Your witnesses can be anybody you like, but they cannot be beneficiaries or be married to or is a civil partner of a beneficiary otherwise they would not be entitled to gain anything from the estate.
‘How long does my Will stay valid for?’
We have heard reports of people in certain professions such as teachers being contacted to tell them that the law has changed thus invalidating their Will. Another rumour is that after 3 years have passed a Will is no longer valid, however this is simply not the case as there are no time limits placed on Wills. Once it is signed it becomes a valid legal document and will stand until you either write a new one or destroy it. It is worth bearing in mind that marriage revokes a Will unless the Will says otherwise.
‘Can I make any changes to my Will?’
It is advisable to review and update your Will periodically, usually every 3-5 years, especially if there are any changes in your personal circumstances such as marriage/divorce or the birth of any children/grandchildren that you’d like to provide for. If you think your Will needs changing or updating in any way, we strongly advise against making any amendments yourself. Please do not write on, or pin/clip anything to your Will as this can often lead to questions around your intentions and may also not be legally valid. It may also lead someone to believe your Will has been tampered with which could bring about a claim on your estate after you have passed potentially causing a lot of heartache for your family and unnecessary expense.
If you need to make any changes, small additions can be made by way of a codicil however it’s advisable to instead have an entirely new Will written to avoid any uncertainty. Most Will Writers offer update services and will keep in touch during your lifetime to ensure that your document still suits your needs. However, if you’re ever unsure the best thing to do would be to contact them or the Society to seek advice.
If you do not yet have a Will and would like to speak to a member of the Society to get started, please visit our find a member page, or give us a call on 01522 687 888 and a member of the team will be more than happy to help you.