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How to change trustees, executors and witnesses of a Will

If you feel you’ve not quite made the right decision on your choice of trustees, executors or witnesses to your Will, or circumstances beyond your control mean you need to make some changes, our guide gives you some pointers on how to proceed.

How to change a trustee

If you’ve created a trust in your will, you will have listed a trustee. You might have nominated a trustee to take care of property, money or possessions left for a beneficiary who is unable to look after these belongings themselves. This might be a child or a disabled person, for example.

Justified reasons for wanting to change might include:

  • The trustee has died.
  • The trustee has been outside of the UK for more than 12 months.
  • The trustee has asked to be removed – they will need to put this in writing.
  • The trustee lacks mental capacity. This is a little trickier to prove and is dependent upon individual circumstances. This will be judged on a case-by-case basis.
  • You no longer deem the person you appointed suitable. It’s much trickier to remove a trustee on these grounds as you’ll need to provide adequate evidence and ask for their permission.

In order to change a trustee, it’s worth seeking legal advice first to check whether you have a good enough reason to change. If you’re allowed to proceed, you’ll either need to draw up a new Will or make a Codicil – a supplementary document used to make small changes without changing the original Will. If you’re working with a solicitor, they can do this on your behalf.

How to change an executor

The same reasons above might apply for wanting to change an executor. If you need to change the executor in your Will, you can simply change this by filling out a Codicil document. You’ll need to add a new clause which replaces the existing clause referencing the name of the executor. Just like a Will, two people will need to sign the Codicil. You can use different witnesses from the original Will.

How to change witnesses on a Will

You can change witnesses on a Will, but only if you draw up a new one, or use a Codicil to make amendments to the existing Will. Bear in mind, you’ll need to have a valid reason for making these changes.

For more information on amending a Will, see our how to update a will guide. If you’d like legal help with changing trustees, executors or witnesses, you can contact our experts.

Note: First4Lawyers offers this information as guidance, not advice. Before taking any action, you should seek professional assistance tailored to your personal circumstances and not rely on First4Lawyers’ online information alone.