Making changes to your Will – A Codicil or a new Will?

National Free Wills Network

If a person passes away without a valid Will, the Rules of Intestacy step in meaning the law decides who get what out of their estate. The best way to have control over what happens to your assets such as money, property and possessions, is to have an up-to-date valid Will. It also allows you to:

  • Make provisions for your children such as appointing Guardians
  • Make your funeral wishes clear
  • Potentially reduce your Inheritance Tax liability
  • Make provisions for the care of your pets
  • Reduce the stress for your next of kin by leaving your wishes clearly laid out

If you already have a Will in place, it is strongly recommended that this is reviewed every 3 to 5 years, or after major life events such as purchasing a property, birth of a child, divorce or receipt of inheritance. It is vital that a new Will is prepared following a marriage, as marriage automatically invalidates a Will unless the Will contained a specific provision to prevent this.

When to use a Codicil?

If only minor alterations are required to the existing Will (such as removal or addition of an executor) it may be possible to simply prepare a Codicil to accompany the original Will. A Codicil is a separate document, which is signed and witnessed the same way a Will is and is then stored with the Will (but not attached to it). This is a cost-effective way of making a change to your Will, without having to pay for a new one. It is however, only recommended for minor changes.

When a new Will would be more appropriate?

If more substantial amendments are required, particularly if you wish to change the people mentioned in your Will or the gifts you wish to leave to your beneficiaries, then making a new Will is recommended. It also allows you to revisit your position regarding Inheritance Tax and fully consider the provisions in your existing Will, as some provisions may no longer be relevant or required. The new Will once validly signed, will revoke all earlier Wills.

Although a Codicil is an affordable, quick and simple way to make minor changes to your Will, if lost, or if multiple Codicils are made, it can cause uncertainty and increase the risk of a dispute arising amongst family members. Sometimes, the best and safest option would be to prepare a new, updated Will.

Everyone has their own personal circumstances, different considerations and wishes, and it is always best to speak to a professional when deciding which option is the right option for you.

If you wish to discuss your existing Will, any changes you wish to make or if you want to make your first Will, please do not hesitate to contact our Private Client team on 01228 522215.



Article written by Mariya Dimitrova

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