We recommend that people review their wills regularly to make sure they are still up to date and match their wishes and circumstances. We advise reviewing your planning every 3-5 years or on any major life events such as marriage, separation, birth of children, or death of a beneficiary or executor.
So, you’ve reviewed your will and realised you’d like to make some changes, what can you do? You have a few options, which we will explore. You can:
- Make amendments on the face of the will
- Make a codicil
- Make a new will
Make amendments to the face of the will
It is possible to make alterations to a will by writing in the amendments on the will itself. Such alterations are valid provided they are done correctly and are perfectly clear. Amendments to the face of the will can include inserting wording, deleting text with the intention to revoke that part, or correcting names and addresses.
To be valid the amendments need to be executed in the same manner as a will. You must sign or initial near the amendments and have this witnessed by two witness who also sign or initial. Amendments not executed this way will not be valid and the original document will be admitted to probate ignoring the alterations.
We do not recommend that you make changes to your will in this way; especially not complicated changes. There is an increased chance that alterations made this way will lead to uncertainty or will not be valid. When looking to make changes to your will its always best to seek advice from a suitably qualified professional.
Make a codicil
A codicil is a document that is additional to a will. It can be used to revoke all or part of a will or make amendments to it. This can be a good alternative to rewriting your will, but we recommend only using them for small and simple changes.
When you want to make larger or more complicated changes it’s best to write a new will. This reduces the chance of any inconsistences between the will and the codicil.
Bear in mind that codicils can make the task of administering your estate more complicated for your executors as they will need to sort through any codicils to make sure they are distributing your estate correctly. There is also the risk of a codicil going missing and confusing matters.
You should note that any changes made in this way will be visible, so any person who was receiving a benefit under your original will but whose benefit is being removed by the codicil may be able to see this when the will goes to probate.
Codicils must be executed in the same manner as a will so will need to be signed and witnessed. Make sure the witnesses you choose aren’t beneficiaries under the codicil or they will lose any benefit under it!
Make a new will
The best way to make changes to your will is to simply write a new one, especially if the changes are substantial. The new will should state that it revokes any previous wills and codicils that you have made.
Making a new will is also a good opportunity to speak to a professional and reassess your estate plan as a whole.
If you are considering making a new will or want to discuss changes to your will and need to find a Will Writer in your area why not try our ‘Find a Member’ tool here: https://www.willwriters.com/members/