Changes to Wills
Updating, altering or adding to a will
Under s18 of the Wills Act 2008 you can make alterations to your will. You might want to correct a mistake, for example. Alterations require the signature of the testator and of the witnesses to be made somewhere near to the alteration, in the margin, at the foot or end of the of the alteration, or opposite the alteration (s18(2)). Often the placing of initials near the alteration is done.
Alternatively, if the matter is complex, or an addition rather than an alteration, a ‘codicil’, a separate document with the change you want included, can be added to the will. Alternatively, it may be easier to have a new will drawn up to include your changes, if the changes are significant. If you have used a DIY kit, you may need another DIY Kit. If you have consulted a solicitor, you will probably need to consult a solicitor again in order to update, alter, or add to a will.
Stopping (“revoking”) a will
You may decide you are unhappy with your will (maybe your circumstances have changed) and you want to stop it operating – i.e. ‘revoke’ it.
The law will do that for you if you marry (or register a deed of relationship), or get divorced – your will is automatically revoked to some extent. And if you make a new will (or a codicil to your will), when you say in it “I revoke all previous wills” that stops all your earlier wills from operating. So, if Jenny executes a will in 1967, but in 2009 executes a new will, the old will is stopped by including in her new will words to the effect that this is her last will, and all other wills are revoked.
You can also take other steps to revoke your will, by
- destroying it: ‘burning, tearing or otherwise destroying” it;
- simply making some writing declaring your intention to revoke the will – but it must be executed the same way a will is executed.
If you are destroying your will you must have the intention to destroy it at the same time as you are destroying it – accidental or mistaken destruction of a will will not revoke it.
Re-starting a will
If, for example, you marry, register a deed of relationship or get a divorce, and your will or a section of it is revoked, then you have to re-execute or execute a will showing you want to revive that will in whole or in part (s19, Wills Act 2008). It’s a lot simpler just to make a new will.
A will that predates another will cannot be restarted if the second will states that it is the last will of the testator, and all other wills are revoked.