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This article was published on October 25th, 2023
Your Will is unquestionably one of the most important documents you will ever draft. It not only provides you with control, certainty and the peace of mind that your loved ones will be cared for after you’re gone, it also enables you to designate executors, establish a protective framework for your family and prevent potential complications that can arise in the absence of a Will. Maintaining a Will that accurately reflects your current wishes is essential, however, knowing when and how to update it can seem daunting. In this blog, we’ll delve deeper into the process of updating your Will and why it’s necessary.
Amending and updating your Will serves as a clear record of your decisions regarding the distribution of your assets after your passing. It ensures your Estate is handled in the way you intend it to be. By keeping your Will up-to-date, you’ll have peace of mind that your chosen beneficiaries will receive their designated assets. It also provides a layer of protection for your loved ones in case someone decides to challenge your Will. Additionally, it’s good to consider other factors that could affect your family after your passing. These factors could include any changes to the law, such as amendments to inheritance tax and property laws, which seem to be constantly evolving.
Failure to review and update your Will can have some harsh consequences. An outdated Will may be deemed invalid, leaving your Estate subject to the ‘Intestacy Rules’ and causing unnecessary stress for your loved ones. The Rules of Intestacy decide what happens to your Estate after you have passed without a valid Will. These rules may not align with your specific wishes, particularly in cases involving unmarried couples or families with step-children, where asset distribution can become more complex.
It is also imperative – should you wish to exclude a family member or a potential beneficiary who could be entitled to part of your Estate under the Rules of Intestacy – that your wishes are not only contained in your Will, but also contained in a Witness Statement which clearly explains your wish for the particular individual to not benefit from your Estate.
Working with a qualified solicitor to update your Will can help you to ensure that your Will is valid, enforceable and accurately reflects your wishes.
Throughout your life, there will be many circumstances and events that occur that may result in changes to your wishes and require updates to your Will. These life events include:
Whilst updating your Will after these events is crucial, it is also wise to conduct regular reviews every three to five years as a general guideline. This allows you to ensure that your Will consistently aligns with your wishes and accurately reflects your possessions and assets. For example: if your Will lists items that you no longer own, whilst they will be excluded, this will potentially leave nothing for their designated recipients.
Once your Will has been signed and witnessed, it cannot be amended. However, there are two options available to you for making any necessary changes:
A codicil is similar to a Will but is an additional legal document used to amend an existing Will. It does not replace the original Will but rather it sits alongside it and is typically used for straightforward additions and amendments.
There is no limit on the number of codicils that can be added to your Will, but it should be noted that if there are many it can become challenging to interpret the Will. If changes made in codicil become invalid or if you want to make more substantial revisions, it is recommended that an entirely new Will is created instead.
When fundamental changes are required, it is recommended to draft a completely new Will. This new Will should explain that it officially revokes all prior Wills and codicils, (which should be burnt or torn up on signing the new Will). This will help to prevent any confusion for you and your family regarding your intended wishes.
At Thorneycroft Solicitors, we understand the complexities and confusion that can arise when updating your Will and ensuring that your intended wishes are clear. We have a team of Wills, Trust and Probate solicitors who will put your best interests first. We understand that creating a Will can be emotive, therefore, we will provide you with expert advice and support you as you look to safeguard your family’s future.
To find out how our expert team can help you, get in touch today. Call us on 0800 1979345 or fill out our simple enquiry form, and a member of our friendly team will be in touch.