How to Change an Original Will

It’s important to keep your will updated so that it can be quickly executed when you pass. If one of your beneficiaries passes before you or you’ve sold some of the assets allocated in the will, you need to have your will changed legally. Here is some of the information you need to know to ensure that your will is kept up to date.

When to Update it

There are certain circumstances that call for updating your will. These circumstances include:

  • The death of a beneficiary or the executor
  • Having children and/or grandchildren
  • Getting married
  • Getting divorced
  • Moving to another property

When you get married, your original will document will be legally revoked in England and Wales. In addition, while a divorce doesn’t revoke a will, a civil partner or an ex-spouse will not benefit from a will.

Don’t Alter Will

If any of the previous circumstances occur or you want to update it for other reasons, the original will should not be altered if it was signed and witnessed. Instead, a codicil should be written to make small changes to your will.

A codicil is a document that legally amends a will and it needs to be signed and witnessed in the same manner as the original will. There can be multiple codicils to change who the executor is, who to leave a legacy to, or to add new beneficiaries. However, if you’re making major alterations to a will, you should have a new one written.

Information in New Wills

Legal wills in Southampton need to include certain information to be valid and you also need to take some actions to make sure that the new will is the one that is used.

  • The new will needs to be clearly worded to revoke the original will.
  • For assets you own in other parts of the world and their corresponding wills, it’s important to ensure that the new will doesn’t invalidate them.
  • The original will needs to be destroyed in some manner to prevent it from being found after you die.
  • Inform your executor about the new will’s location.

The new will should be signed and witnessed in the same manner as the original will. The will or codicils should be witnessed by anyone other than a beneficiary or the spouse or civil partner of a beneficiary. Since they benefit from the will, having them witness it can invalidate it.

Dying Without an Updated Will

If you die without an updated will or the will is ruled invalid, it can be as if you died intestate, which means without a will. If this is the case, the distribution of your assets will be made by an administrator who is appointed by the Probate Office or District Probate Registry in the area in which you died.

While your current spouse and children would inherit your assets, they may not be distributed as you intended and others will not receive anything as you might have wanted. If you do have a will, it is important to make changes to it when major life events occur.


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