As you go through your life, many things change. Your relationships might change – you might get married, enter into a civil partnership or get divorced. You might move house and build up assets. You might build up a business or otherwise create wealth. If you have made a Will and any of these things change, you should think about reviewing it to make sure it still meets your needs.
If you do review your Will and find out it needs to be changed, how do you go about that?
Making changes to your Will
The first thing we would advise is not to try to make changes yourself. The possibility of causing conflict and ambiguity is high and just making some notes about your Will does not necessarily have the desired effect. In the worst case scenario, the changes you make might invalidate your Will.
When you created your Will, it is likely that you sought professional advice. Once your Will has been properly drawn up, it makes no sense to try a do-it-yourself job to make any changes.
There are two ways in which you can change your Will. You can either add a Codicil or you can create an entirely new Will.
What is a Codicil and when would I use one?
A Codicil is an additional formal document that is read in conjunction with your Will. It does not replace your Will. The Codicil will refer to your Will and explain the changes you wish to make.
For instance, should you decide to change an executor, you can easily use a Codicil to remove an existing executor and appoint a new executor. If you wish to make additional bequests or legacies, you can easily do that in a Codicil. Similarly, if you decide to cancel or change a bequest or legacy, you can do that too in a Codicil.
Also, there is no limit to the number of Codicils you can have. However, if you do have multiple Codicils, we would recommend giving consideration to having a brand new Will prepared.
As you can see, a Codicil is suitable for fairly simple and straight forward changes.
When should I prepare a brand new Will?
If you wish to make extensive changes to your Will, it is best to revoke or cancel your existing Will and create a new Will. This ensures that there is absolutely no confusion about your wishes.
You can keep as much of the wording of your existing Will as you wish and build on that to ensure there is no confusion. That is, perhaps, the main advantage of creating a brand new Will as opposed to a Codicil or a number of Codicils. All of your instructions about your wishes are contained in one document and not across a number of different documents.
If I want to make changes to my Will, what should I do?
If you want to make changes to your Will, the first thing to do is to write down everything you want to achieve. Express your wishes clearly. We will then discuss these with you and review where these fit with your existing Will. If the changes are extensive, we will recommend a new Will. If the changes are fairly minor, we will recommend a Codicil.
The process is straight forward and very affordable.
If you are thinking about making changes to your Will or, if you are thinking about making a Will, please get in touch with us right away.