What does revoking a Will mean?

You may have heard of the term revoking a Will and wondered what it meant? In short, it is about making significant changes to the current Will.

You can do that in one of three recognised ways:

  1. Writing a new Will – your personal circumstances may have changed, or your decision about who your beneficiaries are could have altered
  2. Significantly altering your existing Will – in legal terms this is known as a revocation provision
  3. Destroying your existing Will

If your circumstances change, we always recommend writing a new Will. It is an excellent opportunity to reflect on your wishes, and your estate, and what you want to happen when you are no longer here. Changes in inheritance law and tax are quite common, and you may want to consider that too, when estate planning.

If you marry or re-marry, your Will is automatically revoked, as usually there are no clauses in a Will that naturally allow for a spouse to become a beneficiary.

If you divorce, your existing Will does remain valid.

However, if you don’t write a new Will your ex-spouse is treated as if they had died. So they would not inherit, but that could mean all or part of your estate could fall under the intestacy laws.

Sometimes it is not necessary to write a new Will, adding a codicil to your current Will is sufficient. Generally, that is the case where the change is relatively small or does not significantly alter the original Will intentions.

Examples of the more minor changes include changing your Executors, your nominated guardians for minors, increasing the amount of a gift, or re-allocating a gift if a beneficiary is no longer alive, or your funeral arrangements.

The birth of a child after a Will has been written can also be added to an existing Will, but you will need a new Will if you are setting up a Trust for the child.

Before taking action, we recommend seeking professional advice, to ensure you are protecting your estate and your wishes will be carried out as you planned.

Destroying a Will is not something we ever recommend clients do.

There are several issues with this. The biggest one is that unless you do this officially and your lawyer and/or Executors are aware you have done this, your Will would remain valid.

If you choose to destroy your Will you need to make sure all copies are destroyed, and they need to be burnt or totally shredded. If pieces of a destroyed Will are subsequently discovered, it could be claimed that it was destroyed by accident and therefore remains valid.

If you are choosing to destroy your Will it indicates that it no longer reflects your wishes. In that case, we urge you to create a new Will. A professional Will writer or lawyer will always ensure there is a clause in a new Will that revokes all previous Wills – making them no longer valid.

If you are considering changes to your Will, please do get in touch – 01344 875 310. We would be happy to guide you on the right course of action.

revoking a Will