Thinking of updating your Will? COVID-19 has created a period of reflection for many of us, with many evaluating what is important now and in the future. We have seen a rise over the last few months in clients looking to make a change to their Will and get their affairs in order.
A Will should really be considered as a living document that as much as we try and future proof when initially created, it should be reviewed at regular periods or at any point when there is a significant change to your personal circumstances.
When should a Will be reviewed?
There are a number of circumstances when you should consider reviewing your Will such as;
- If someone named in your Will passes away
- If you wish to change who inherits and is a beneficiary
- You have children or the children reach legal age
- You gets married or divorced
- You personally inherit various assets
- You start a business
- There is a significant change in your assets such as a second property
It’s important to note that a Will should never be physically altered or amended as it poses a risk that it will not be deemed acceptable by the Probate Registry as they may consider that it could have been fraudulently tampered with. For example, if a name is crossed out and replaced with another name, this would definitely raise suspicions as to whether it was amended by yourself or someone else.
We often get people requesting to make a Codicil to change their Will which is a separate document that amends part of an existing Will.
What is a Codicil?
A Codicil is a document that amends part of an existing Will. It is a separate document to the Will and should be stored with a Will. Back in the day, when Wills were handwritten or typed with a typewriter, a Codicil was a useful timesaver in not having to re-draft an entire document for a minor change.
What are the risks of a Codicil?
However there are a few risks to be aware of however when making a Codicil:
- As the Codicil is an individual document, there is a risk of the Codicil being separated from the Will itself, so the change stipulated becomes lost, and so will not be implemented.
- The Codicil could be purposefully ignored or destroyed and the unaltered Will subsequently standing.
- Where the change is perceived to be minor, there may be a temptation to make a ‘homemade’ Codicil. However, it should be remembered that a Codicil should still comply with the formalities of the Wills Act 1837.
- The Codicil could contradict wider aspects of the original Will creating the potential for disputes later on.
Due to updated processes and procedures it is often just as quick (and safer) to simply create a new Will.
So how can a Will be amended?
We would always suggest that if a client wishes to amend their Will we simply re-draft the document. Often, where minor changes are requested such as the change of an address or beneficiary name only a small administration fee is required. However, if you would also like to take advantage of our Safe Custody Service, then you have the advantage of a free Will re-write per payment year for any minor amendments.
Either way, we will simply re-generate the Will with the required changes for you to sign with your witnesses and the previous Will shall be automatically revoked offering peace of mind that there can be no confusion as to what your wishes are.
It may also be that when reviewing a Will you identify you may need other elements, such as a Lasting Power of Attorney, or a particular trust due to a change in circumstances. In the modern world whereby our assets and family life are not as simple as they once were, then reviewing your wider situation could be a vital.