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Fountain pen resting on paper with the words Last Will and Testament

How to update a Will: a simple guide

It’s a common scenario: you’ve prepared a Will but years down the line your circumstances change. A change in life events means the Will no longer paints an accurate picture of your wishes.

To update a Will:

  1. Explain the updates to your solicitor.
  2. They will draw up a document called a ‘Codicil’ to detail the alteration.
  3. You sign the Codicil and have it witnessed.

A Will is not set in stone. You have every right to request amendments. In fact, it’s recommended to review your Will every five years. Perhaps your financial situation is significantly different? Or maybe you’ve now got grandchildren you’d like to leave money to?

You might want to update your Will when:

  • A named beneficiary dies.
  • You have kids or grandchildren.
  • You get married. Marrying in England cancels the terms set out in your Will, so you’ll need to make a new one.
  • You get divorced. In England, getting divorced won’t make a Will invalid, but it will automatically cancel any gifts you’ve left your ex-spouse.

If you’re looking to make small changes to your Will, you don’t necessarily have to draw up a new one from scratch. A Codicil allows you to detail any amendments without completely replacing the existing Will – it simply acts as a supporting document. This is usually cheaper than drawing up a new Will.

A Codicil has to be signed and witnessed. However, you’re allowed to use different witnesses from the original Will. A Codicil should be kept with the original Will and if it should be lost, this can raise concerns over the original Will.

There are no hard and fast rules about what you can and cannot change using a Codicil. In fact, there are no limits to the number of Codicils you can add. It’s wise though to keep amendments to a minimum, so it doesn’t cause confusion for the person sorting out the Will when you die.

If you’re looking to change large chunks of information, you might be better off writing a new Will. Doing this will cancel any existing Wills and Codicils. You may find your legal representative recommends destroying your old Will.

Updating a Will may be easier with the help of a solicitor or legal expert. We can put you in touch with lawyers who specialise in Wills. To see how we can help, get in touch or request a callback using the button at the top of the screen.

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.