Solicitors in Westminster, London
How do I make amendments to my Will?
How do I make amendments to my Will?
It is important when your personal and/or financial circumstances change to consider whether you need to update your Will. Alternatively, if you do not have a Will, it is a good idea to put one in place so that your wishes are properly and legally documented. For example, if you have recently bought a new property; have had children; or inherited a substantial amount of money, it is advisable to consider having a Will prepared or updating your existing one.
By updating your Will, you can include new provisions detailing who you would like to act as guardian for your children, include what will happen to the new property that you have recently bought and include new beneficiaries. With a properly drafted Will in place, the people that you place your trust in to implement the terms of your Will as Executors and Trustees will be able to carry out your wishes more effectively.
If you pass away without leaving a Will, then your estate will be governed by the rules of intestacy. This means that none of your wishes as to your property can be taken into account and your estate may pass to someone that you did not intend.
Drafting a new Will
If you would like to have a new Will prepared, it is important for you to consult a solicitor as there are strict rules on how a Will needs to be signed and witnessed. See our guide on witnessing Wills during the Covid-19 pandemic here. A solicitor can also give you advice on how to structure your Will and your estate in a way that takes advantage of any tax reliefs that you may be eligible for.
If you are interested in speaking to a solicitor in relation to a new Will, please contact a member of our Private Client team to discuss this further.
Amending your Existing Will
There are also strict formalities to adhere to when amending an existing Will. If you already have a Will, leaving a handwritten note with additional instructions and simply signing it will not be sufficient evidence to form a valid amendment to the Will. For example, if you leave a note stating that you wish to amend a gift in your Will or replace an Executor with another person, that note would be invalid and would have to be ignored by the Executors of the Estate.
Similarly, if an alteration is made to a Will in manuscript after it has been properly signed and witnessed, it must comply with the provisions of section 21 of the Wills Act 1837 (WA 1837) which provides that alterations must be executed and attested as follows:
- the Testator (i.e. the person making the Will) signs and the witnesses attest the alteration in the margin or opposite or near to the alteration;
- there is a memorandum on some part of the Will recording the nature of the alteration with the Testator's signature and witnesses' attestation at the end or opposite that memorandum.
If you do not wish to draft an entirely new Will and want to amend your existing Will, it is best practice to enter into a Codicil to ensure any amendments are in line with the formalities of the Wills Act. A Codicil is a legal document that is supplemental to and considered as annexed to a Will that has previously been made. The formalities to sign and witness a Codicil are the same as a Will. Once properly signed and witnessed, the Will and Codicil (or Codicils) to it are read together as one testamentary disposition.
If the changes to your pre-existing Will are substantial, it will probably be more effective to draft an entirely new Will which revokes all former Wills and Codicils.
The contents of this article do not constitute legal advice and are provided for general information purposes only. The contents are copyright of Lee Bolton Monier-Williams LLP. All rights reserved.