Many people wonder how to change a will. Most people opt to change their will throughout their life as their situation changes, including the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, a change in financial circumstances or the death of a relative. If you do not change your will after a significant life change, your loved ones may not be adequately provided for. However, you cannot simply change your current will by making direct amendments to it. The only way to change a will is to make a new one or to make a legal amendment, known as a codicil. If you are wondering how to change your will, then keep on reading. Graysons’ will writing solicitors in Sheffield and Chesterfield answer some of the most common questions regarding who and how you can change a will.
Who can change a will?
Only the testator can change their last will and testament. In order to change a will, it is important that you do not make direct amendments to your current will, as this may invalidate it. You should either write a new will or make a codicil to the existing will. An experienced will writing solicitor, such as Graysons’ team of Sheffield and Chesterfieldsolicitors, will be able to advise the best course of action as to how to change your will.
Why should I change my will?
There are many reasons as to why you should change your will, including life-changing events that may impact your wishes, the distribution of your estate, and the validity of your current will. These include:
- Marriage or civil partnership – When you get married or enter a civil partnership, any previous will that you have made is automatically declared null and void in England and Wales. The only exception to this would be if you had expressly stated in your last will and testament that you wished it to remain valid after marriage.
- Separated – If you separate from your spouse or civil partner, then you should change your will. If you are separated but not yet divorced, your spouse is entitled to any inheritance in your will, no matter how long you have been separated. If you do not have a will, but separate from your spouse or civil partner, then it is imperative that you write a will, as, under the law of intestacy, your spouse could inherit your entire estate.
- Divorce or dissolution – When you get divorced, your will still remains legally binding. However, many people wish to change it as it will no longer be effective. For example, if your last will and testament states that everything passes to your spouse, this would no longer be valid, and your estate will instead be handled according to the law of intestacy.
- Birth of a child – When children are born, many people opt to change their last will and testament to ensure they are listed as beneficiaries and receive a share of your estate. Some people also opt to set up a trust for younger children and outline how that trust should be managed. If you do not update your will when additional children are born, they may not be entitled to a share of your estate.
- The death of someone named in your will – You should change your will if a beneficiary or executor named in your will dies.
- A change in financial circumstances – A significant change in financial circumstances may prompt you to change your will, including inheriting property or any other significant asset.
Even if none of the above applies, you should still review your will every few years to ensure it accurately reflects your wishes. Reviewing and confirming the contents of your will on a regular basis also diminishes the chances of your will being contested, giving you peace of mind.
What are codicils?
A codicil is an official alteration to a will, which avoids you having to write a new will. A codicil must be signed and witnessed in the same way as your will. This means that two witnesses, who are not named beneficiaries in the will, must sign it, giving their name, address, and occupation. Both witnesses must be 18 years and over. Many people ask their solicitors to act as a witness to their will.
How can I change a will?
If you want to change your will, you should first contact an experienced will writing solicitor. Depending on the scope of the changes, they will advise as to whether you should write a new will or amend your current will with a codicil. If you want to change your will, it is crucial that you do not make any written amendments to your current will, or attach any documents to it, as this may make it invalid.
How does a name change affect a will?
In most cases, a name change does not affect a will. For example, if a beneficiary changes their name on marriage, they will still be able to benefit from the will, as long as they are able to show documents that identify their name change. However, for the sake of clarity, it is always a good idea to change a will when the names of beneficiaries change for complete peace of mind.
How much does it cost to change a will?
In most cases, you can make changes to your will for a relatively modest fee. However, the cost will depend on the complexity of the changes and whether you want to write an entirely new will or add a codicil to your existing will.
Can a will be changed after death?
No, a will cannot be changed after death. However, a beneficiary can change what they are entitled to from the estate by a deed of variation. The deed of variation, sometimes called a deed of disclaimer or deed of family arrangement, outlines how you want your share of the estate to be distributed. The deed of variation only enables you to change your share of the estate, and if it affects other people’s share of the estate, then they will also need to agree to it. Reasons for a deed of variation may include:
- The beneficiary wants some of the funds to go to someone else or a charity
- Children or grandchildren were born after the will was made, and a beneficiary, or beneficiaries, want to make sure they too benefit from a share of the estate
- One child was left less than the other, and the family wish to ensure both children have an equal share
- A more tax-efficient way has been identified to distribute assets.
You can make variations to a will before or after the executor of the will gets the grant of probate. However, for tax reasons, you should make any variations within two years of the testator’s death.
Can you change the Executor of a will after death UK?
An executor can choose not to deal with the estate by renouncing their position by way of a formal Deed of Renunciation. Alternatively, you can request that an executor is removed from their role if you believe they are failing in their duty, including not distributing assets fairly.
Can a power of attorney change a will UK?
No, a person appointed under a power of attorney cannot change a will in the UK.
How many times can I amend my will?
There is no limit to the number to the number of times you can amend a will. However, if you are amending a will multiple times by the use of codicils, bear in mind that these can become lost or separated from your will. If there are multiple codicils, it is often a good idea to consider writing a new will for clarity and peace of mind.
Can a person with dementia change their will?
Yes, someone with dementia can change their will, but only if they can show that they understand its effect, known as testamentary capacity. In most cases, someone with early-stage dementia will be considered mentally competent. Using an experienced will writing solicitor will help to ensure the will is watertight and limit the chances of the will being contested later on grounds of capacity.
How can Graysons’ solicitors in Sheffield and Chesterfield help me change my will?
Graysons’ solicitors in Sheffield and Chesterfield boasts a team of experienced will writers who can give expert advice on changes to your will, ensuring it is legally watertight. We are recommended in the Legal 500 and our services are customised to meet each of our clients’ individual needs. If you would like help changing your will, or would like advice on wills and estate planning, then contact our team of experienced solicitors in Sheffield and Chesterfield today.