Updating Wills: How Do I Change My Will?
A recent study in the U.K. found that around 54% of adults don’t have a Will. If you are in the minority of adults who have made a valid Will, good for you. You have already made a really important step in preparing for the future. However, circumstances change over time and you may find yourself wondering whether the Will you created ten, fifteen or twenty years ago is still relevant and applicable to your current situation.
Find all relevant info about updating a will in this guide! We will cover the main points on why you should have a current and updated Will along with how you can do this.
1) Summary in 30 Seconds
- Common Reasons to update a Will include divorce, remarriage and selling assets or property.
- You can avoid a lot of potential issues by updating your Will regularly.
- You don’t necessarily need a new Will – you can update your current Will.
2) Why You Should Update Your Will
As we grow older, our goals and outlook on life changes. What we valued or prioritised when we were younger may have less meaning to us now. Your life might not seem to change very much over the years, but more has happened to you than you might think. For example, you may have:
- Gotten divorced and remarried, perhaps more than once.
- Had children, grand-children or other new family members. These children might have since grown up, become financially independent or gotten married and divorced themselves.
- Bought or sold properties.
- Bought or sold other assets or possessions.
- Inherited a sum of money, or had your financial circumstances change significantly in some way.
- Had loved ones die who were beneficiaries in your Will.
- Had the breakdown of a relationship with someone who is named in your Will. If the relationship is permanently altered you may want to remove them from your Will.
- Moved to another country.
These are just a few ways that your life can change markedly over the course of your life. Even if your circumstances no longer resemble what they did when you created your will, what is instructed in your Will dictates what happens to your estate after you die. This could create heartbreaking situations for family members and loved ones who were not aware that you had not updated or changed your will before you died.
3) Do I Need a New Will?
The short answer is No. You don’t have to make an entirely new Will for every change or addition you want included. There are a few ways you can amend or change a Will.
- You can have Codicil drafted. This is a separate physical document that is attached to your original Wll. It will include your changes or amendments. It is very important that this document is signed and witnessed in the same way your original Will has been. It does not, however, have to be witnessed by the same individuals who witnessed your original Will. There is no limit to the amount of Codicils you can attach to a Will, although after many additions eventually it would make more sense to draft a new Will altogether.
- You can also include changes in the original Will document, although any changes must be signed and witnessed. It is less formal than a Codicil but it is still valid.
4) When To Write a New Will
Perhaps you wrote a Will years, even decades ago. You might not even fully remember some of these gifts or beneficiaries included in there. The longer ago you wrote or last updated your Will, the more likely it is very outdated. Alternatively, you might have undergone some recent life-changes that mean you want to make different arrangements for your estate. In these cases, a few simple changes or amendments won’t suffice.
As well as writing a new Will, there are a number of additional steps you need to take to make sure that your old Will is revoked and that this new one has replaced it. It could cause future problems if your old Will is still floating around in a drawer and your new Will doesn’t explicitly state that it is to replace the old one. We recommend having a solicitor advise you on your Will and draft it for you.
5) How Often Should You Review Your Will?
There is no hard rule, but every five years or so should be enough. If you have experienced any of the major life changes listed above, you probably should change your Will as soon as you can. Even if you haven’t had any dramatic life changes in a few years, it is still good to routinely check it to make sure it still reflects your current wishes or if you have any small amendments to make.
A Will brings Clarity
If you have children, your will is the document that sets out their future as well. In the event that you are no longer here, you can still make decisions for them now to ensure the best possible outcome and with as little stress as possible in an already very difficult situation.
6) Updating Your Will After Death - Is That Possible?
Is it possible to write a Will that protects against changing circumstances, even after you’re gone?
Your Will probably needs to be updated several times over the course of your life. But you can write a Will that ensures your wishes can be adhered to after your death. Get the advice of a solicitor who specialises in Wills who can talk you through your options and can help you draft a comprehensive and clear Will.
Life continues on for your family and loved ones after your death. Think about your estate with a long-range view that takes into consideration everyone you love. A well-drafted Will that is regularly revised and updated when needed will ensure that your loved ones are provided for. It will have anticipated potential issues and addressed them clearly so that those winding up your estate don’t run into any problems.
- Think carefully about making changes to your Will.
- Be certain that any new additions or cancellations you make do not invalidate other parts of the Will. This will make it very hard for your wishes to be followed in the future.
- Even if you have drafted your own Will in the past, consider seeking the expert advice of a solicitor who specialises in this area.
You can get started yourself by compiling a complete list of all your assets, possessions and property that you own. If you have specific gifts in mind for certain people, write these down too.