We often make New Year’s Resolutions in January with the best of intentions to improve our lifestyle or deal with those matters that we have been putting off. Why not make one of your Resolutions to review your Will arrangements?
Research commissioned by investment management company Brewin Dolphin, found that more people updated their Wills in the last year than at any other time in the previous ten years. The COVID-19 pandemic has of course, played a role in this spike, however there are always instances where a Will must be reviewed or amended. Our guidance is that Wills should be reviewed every five years, and after any major life change.
This may include:
- Having children or grandchildren: You may want to reconsider how your assets are distributed with new members of the family, appoint any guardians, or alter the age in which your children or grandchildren can inherit.
- Getting married: This automatically revokes any Will made prior to the marriage and so you would have to make a new Will if you did not want your estate to follow the intestacy rules.
- The death of an executor: You may decide to appoint your children if they are older or consider appointing someone from a law firm to act as your executor.
- Moving house: As one of the larger assets of most estates, you may want to consider who inherits your share of the property and whether you want to leave any lifetime interests to loved ones, giving you peace of mind that they are able to live at the property after your death.
- Getting separated or divorced. If in a former Will, you left everything to your former spouse, it will be treated as though the former spouse has died. If you have not specified what should then happen you may die intestate. They would also be unable to act as your executor if you had appointed them as such. Therefore, it’s strongly advisable to make a new Will after a divorce or separation.
How do I change my Will?
Once a Will has been signed and witnessed, you cannot write over it to make any amendments. The only way to change a Will is by creating a new one or by making a Codicil to keep alongside your current Will. For straight forward changes, such as altering a specific legacy, or changing funeral wishes, a Codicil may be more appropriate. If you want to make more than one change, or a particularly large change, for example, altering who your main beneficiary is or adding a trust, it would be advisable to create a new Will.
What’s the difference between a Codicil and a new Will?
Codicils are separate documents that are kept alongside the Will. They must be signed and witnessed in the same way as a Will to be valid. Within a Codicil, you can either add a clause into your Will, or revoke a clause you no longer wish to have. Although there is no legal limit on the number of Codicils you can have attached to your Will, the objective is always to remain as clear and concise as possible. The more Codicils you have, the more confusing it may be to piece everything together, and if your Will is no longer comprehensible, it will be difficult to administer your Estate. Therefore, it is always best to speak to a solicitor when deciding whether you need a Codicil.
The alternative is to write a new Will from start to finish. Inputting all the new dispositions and wishes and removing the parts you want cutting out. There is always a revocation clause at the start of a new Will to ensure any previous Wills are null and void.
After a major life change, your financial position often changes too, and when creating a new Will, there is always a full review of your current assets. Not only does this allow solicitors to give you the most appropriate advice in terms of how your assets will be affected by the current tax law, but it also ensures that your new Will remains relevant and appropriate to you. It is advisable to speak to a lawyer about how your current financial and personal positions differ from when you made your last Will and relay what you wish to achieve with your new Will. We can then go about creating a new Will which accommodates what your new needs.
How much does it cost to amend my Will?
- Our standard rate charge for creating a single Will without complicated factors such as trusts is £350 +VAT
- Our standard rate charge for creating a Codicil starts at £225 + VAT.
If you are thinking about amending your Will, please call Emma Carter at Hegarty Solicitors on 01733 295608 or email email@example.com.