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Top Tips for Reviewing or Changing your Will 11 December 2019

The nature of life is that it goes on and sometimes your circumstances change - which is why it's important to review your Will on a regular basis.

"We advise clients to consider whether their existing Will is still relevant for them or whether it needs to be updated, changed, or cancelled in favour of a new one, once every 5 years," says Paul Hannam, Solicitor at HLF Berry Solicitors in Chorlton.

"Furthermore, it's important to keep your Will safe - we recommend storing the original with your solicitor and to keep a copy somewhere family members know where it is."

Why you might need to change your Will

If your life has changed from a financial or family point of view, you might need to update your Will by making a new Will.

Reasons for making changes to your Will, include:

  • If you've had a baby or more children
  • If you've married, entered into a civil partnership, divorced or separated
  • If you've moved and now live outside the UK
  • If your chosen guardian dies or becomes too ill to care for your children if you die
  • If you want to change your executors
  • If the law has changed regarding inheritance or inheritance tax

Adding to your Will with a Codicil

If you want to make small changes to your Will, such as changing who the executors are or adding a beneficiary, then you can add a Codicil to your Will.

A Codicil is an independent document that details your changes. As it stands on its own, be aware that it won't automatically be cancelled if you later cancel your Will. Any new Will would need to make clear the terms of any earlier Will and Codicil are cancelled - and in fact, you need to add a clause to every Will that revokes previous Wills and/or codicils. There is the possibility the a Codicil could be overlooked when your executors come to deal with your estate, so our general recommendation is to replace an existing Will with a new Will when changes are needed, rather than making a Codicil.

How to cancel your Will

If you get married or enter into a civil partnership, unless your existing Will states that it was made at the point that you intended to marry or enter into a civil partnership, your existing Will is automatically cancelled, so you will need to make a new Will.

If your Will no longer reflects your current circumstances and you need to make major changes to it, you will need to make a new one.

Without a valid, up-to-date Will you run the risk of your estate not being distributed according to your wishes - either because the details are out of date or because the Will is not legally watertight and the rules of intestacy apply. 

Keep your Will safe

Your family and executors must know where your Will is kept, so there are no issues with locating it when needed. Most solicitors will help you write your Will and then provide a free service to keep your original Will for you - this is something HLF Berry Solicitors offers to clients.

If the original is lost, it is possible to prove a copy of the Will to the Probate Registry but it's expensive and takes time. It is far better to keep the original with your solicitor so you always know where it is.

You can keep your copy of your Will at home but make sure you tell your family and executors exactly where it is kept.

To speak to one of our specialist Wills and Probate solicitors about updating or writing a new Will, please contact us at our Failsworth office on 0161 681 4005 or at our Chorlton office on 0161 860 7123 or email chorlton@hlfberry.com