Once you have a Will, it is important to keep it updated to ensure it continues to reflect your circumstances. So any changes in your personal circumstances should trigger the review of your Will. Most solicitors will be happy to look at your personal circumstances ensure your Will is still appropriate.
Changing the provisions of a Will can be done in one of two ways either by:-
a. Making a codicil to your Will; or
b. Making a new Will
Howells Solicitors looks at the advantages and disadvantages of both, to help you decide how to proceed.
Making a codicil to a Will
A codicil is a legal document which makes an alteration to an existing Will.
It can be used to add or change the provisions of the Will. You can change any part of your Will with a codicil – from a single word to a number of different provisions. There are no rules setting out what you can change using a codicil, or, indeed how many codicils you can make. If there are a number of codicils this can significantly increase the complexity of the administering a Will.
Generally, it is a good idea to use codicils for minor changes ONLY, such as changing the age at which a beneficiary will receive a gift, or, amendment to an Executor or beneficiary’s name or address. However small the change, a codicil must be signed and witnessed in the same way as your original Will. You do not need to use the original witnesses to witness a codicil.
Advantages to making a codicil:
- It could be economic, i.e. cheaper than completely updating your Will.
Disadvantages to making a codicil:
- If a codicil is missing and no one is aware of its existence, it won’t be taken into consideration when administering an estate.
- If there are numerous codicils and one is missing it can make it difficult or even impossible to confirm the wishes of the Testator.
- The other major disadvantage is that if a codicil is done, consideration may not have been given to whether the Will is still appropriate to your current circumstances. Issues such as Inheritance Tax may not have been addressed and the old Will may no longer be appropriate.
Writing a new Will
Writing a new Will is the best option if you intend making significant changes. It is good practice to review your Will regularly, at least every 5 years, as well as after any major changes in your life, for example:
- Divorce or separation
- Marriage or civil partnership
- Having a child or grandchild
- Moving home
- If an Executor or beneficiary named in your Will dies
- Inheriting property or money from someone else
- Owning property or assets outside England and Wales
Updating a Will means writing a new Will. However, it is important to keep a few extra things in mind. Firstly, when updating a Will, make sure it clearly states that it revokes any previous Wills or codicils. If you own property or assets abroad it is very important to state whether the new Will provisions apply to just your assets within England and Wales, or whether it is to apply to assets held abroad.
If assets are owned outside England and Wales it may be very important that if you have made a Will to cover those assets that the new Will DOES NOT revoke the Will in the other country.
It could be appropriate to avoid confusion that you destroy an old Will, as well as any copies. It would be best to seek advice from the solicitor doing your new Will, before destroying any previous Wills, codicils and copies. Once you have updated your Will, be sure to tell your executor where the new Will is stored so they can make contact when it is necessary.
Update your Will with Howells Solicitors
Whether you decide to use a codicil or make a New Will completely, using a reputable firm of solicitors can avoid problems after your death.
It is particularly important that you use a reputable firm of solicitors if your circumstances are complex such as:
- Inheritance Tax issues;
- Complicated family structure;
- Where you have assets outside England and Wales;
- You own a business that is a part of your estate.
Instructing a reputable firm of solicitors you can be confident common mistakes such as inappropriate witnesses, or, failing to have it signed (rendering a Will useless when you die) are avoided.
The law surrounding the validity of Wills and Codicils is complicated. A reputable firm of solicitors familiar with these laws will help you navigate them and to make the most effective choices for you and your family. No matter how complex your circumstances the professional team at Howells Solicitors will be able to work with you to protect your family’s interests for the future.
Please contact us today on 02920 404034 for further information regarding our Will writing service in Cardiff and Newport.