In this blog we answer your questions on whether you need to write a new Will. People often assume that once written, a Will is good for the rest of their life. Alternatively, people often believe their Will needs updating every year or so. However, whether your will needs changing is usually determined by changes that have occurred in your personal or financial circumstances. Or it may depend on whether your personal or financial circumstances of your family and your future beneficiaries have changed. Our professional will writing solicitors can answer all your will writing queries.
Do I Need A New Will?
Much depends upon your individual personal and financial circumstances.If nothing significant has changed for you or any of your beneficiaries recently you may be fine with the will you have. However, if your will was made a good while ago,, or drafted by a non-specialist solicitor, it may not be as tax efficient as it could be.
Sometimes a person decides that they would like to make further bequests or specific requests for family members or friends (such as a sentimental gift to a child). If this is the case, it may be possible to do this by getting your Wills and estate planning solicitor to prepare a codicil – a supplemental document to your existing Will.
In other scenarios, it is easier and potentially less confusing for a new Will to be drawn up. For example, if beneficiaries in your existing Will have moved or changed their name because of marriage or divorce.
Often, people don’t realise that their Will is no longer fit for purpose and needs a complete rewrite. That is because changes in personal or financial circumstances may not seem legally significant to you but they can be.
You Need A New Will If…
- Your original executors have passed away and there is no substitution of executor in your Will
- You married or have remarried
- You have separated from your wife, husband, civil partner or partner
- A new relationship has begun; you still need estate planning advice on whether you want to leave a share of your estate to your new partner. If you don’t review your estate planning and take appropriate action then you may increase the prospects of a claim being made against your estate or a challenge to your Will.
- You have new step children or step grandchildren and they aren’t already included in your Will.
- Covering unforeseen events; if your original Will doesn’t set out what will happen if one of your beneficiaries dies before you or specifically names your children or grandchildren but you now have had additional births within the family.
- Age of inheritance – you may want to change the age that your beneficiaries can inherit. Learn about setting up a trust here.
- Your beneficiary’s personal or financial circumstances have changed.
There are many reasons why your Will may need to be reviewed. It is best to take legal advice every couple of years to double check that your Will still meets your needs and protects your family and loved ones. Our professional will writing solicitors can answer all your queries.
Making a New Will
When making a new Will, you will need to consider certain things that may have changed since writing your last Will.
Destroying the previous Will
If you had previously made a Will and have now made a new one, it is important that the previous Will(s) and codicil(s) are destroyed. This means that when you die, there will be no confusion as to which Will is legally valid.
This is especially important if certain provisions have been made in a previous Will which have since been changed. For this reason, the disposal of all old Wills and codicils is essential.
If will writing solicitors drew up a Will on your behalf, they are likely to have a copy of it. Ask them to destroy it for you, or better still, give it to you so that you can collect all the copies of your Will and codicils and then destroy them yourself.
Once the old Will is destroyed, the new Will should contain a clause revoking all previous Wills and codicils. This way it is no longer valid in law.
What Is A Codicil?
A codicil is a straightforward document that needs to be signed and witnessed in the same way as a will. It allows amendments to an existing will rather than having to completely rewrite it.
There are no rules about what you can change using a codicil; it could be anything from a single word to whole sections.However, we suggest using codicils for very small changes, as they can make executing your will more complicated. A codicil has to be signed and witnessed in the same way as your original will, but you don’t have to use the same witnesses.
Don’t use someone as a witness if they or their spouse benefits from a gift in the codicil; it will make the gift to them (in the codicil) invalid.
- Adding a codicil is usually cheaper than writing a new will.
- A codicil should be kept with your original will. They can get lost and raise questions over the original will.
- If you’re changing several parts of your will, it’s usually better to write a new will.