My circumstances have changed – is it possible to change my will?
Yes. Many people find that the will they previously put in place no longer reflects their wishes. For example, you should always consider changing your will after divorce, and you might remarry and decide that you’d like your new spouse to be named as a beneficiary. Life inevitably brings with it many changes, so it’s a good idea to review your will from time to time to make sure that it continues to meet your needs.
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Can I just add the changes to my original will?
No. If your will has been signed and witnessed, then you can’t just go ahead and add things to it afterwards – this will automatically invalidate it. Instead, you need to add a clause known as a codicil. This leaves the bulk of your will instructions intact, but updates the will to include new information, e.g. instructions for specific legacies, or changes to named beneficiaries and executors.
The alternative to a codicil is to destroy the original will and write a brand-new one.
What is the correct way to add a codicil?
Codicils need to be signed and witnessed in the same way as your main will document. You can use a codicil to make small changes and alterations to your existing Will.
Who can change my Will once I have passed away?
It is extremely rare for a properly written Will to be changed once the testator has passed away. However, ambiguous wording may lead to a will challenge.
If you have not given any of your estate to dependents or been “unfair” in how you have distributed your estate to (former) spouses or (former) civil partners, the Court may alter your Will in response to a disputed will claim. If you have reasons why you didn’t provide for these people, you should state these in your Will, as they will be used to help the Court come to a decision.
Former spouses that have remarried will not be able to appeal against your Will.
Click here to read more about Making Your Will
Are there situations in which a Court can change my Will?
It goes without saying that only the people you name as beneficiaries will receive your estate. If you don’t want to include someone, you can put a clause stating that they are not included. Certain people, namely your children under 16 and your spouse, can make an inheritance claim by applying to the Court under the 1975 Inheritance Act if they feel that they did not receive a sufficient proportion of the estate.
Click here to read about making or defending an Inheritance Act Claim