Changing a Will

Guides

If you’ve made a will and need to change it, you certainly won’t be the first (or last) to do so. 

Many people update their wills when their circumstances change, whether that’s because they have had children or grandchildren, got married or divorced, or simply because their financial situation has changed. 

Depending on the type of amendments you want to make, you can either add to your will by using a codicil or write a new will altogether.

Do I need to change my will?

Once your will is made, you should remember to review it every so often to ensure that it’s still accurate, up-to-date, and relevant to your situation. Some circumstances that might lead to a will review include: 

  • If someone named in your will dies – whether that’s a beneficiary, executor, guardian or trustee.
  • If you get married – marriage revokes a will in England and Wales.
  • If you get divorced – being divorced does not revoke a will, but your ex-partner wouldn’t benefit from it in England and Wales.
  • If you have children or grandchildren – you might want to add them as beneficiaries. 
  • If your estate changes
  • If you want to leave significant gifts

How to change a will

However big or small you believe the changes are, it’s crucial that you do not alter your original will. 

If you need to make some minor changes to your will, such as changing the executors or adding a legacy, then you are able to use an additional document called a codicil. 

Those who need to make more significant updates are urged to write an entirely new will and revoke the old one by destroying it.

What is a codicil? 

A codicil is a document that allows you to make changes to your existing will, without having to write a new one from the beginning. It must be signed and witnessed in the same way as a will, but there is no requirement for it to be the same people that witnessed the will originally. 

There are formal requirements to a codicil – you can’t just write some notes on a piece of paper and staple it to the back of the will – so it’s often recommended that you do so through a solicitor or professional service. 

You’re free to change or update any information you like, but you should only use codicils for very minor amendments. Why? Because codicils can make the will more difficult for the executor to manage when you die, so it’s best to keep them as short as possible. 

If you write a codicil to a will, it should always be stored with the will as you otherwise risk the danger of it becoming lost or damaged, which could lead to potential will disputes in the future. 

How much does it cost to change your will?

Adding a codicil through a solicitor can be cheaper than writing an entirely new will, depending on the updates you wish to make. For more information on the cost of doing so, be sure to complete our short contact form and we’ll be in touch at a time that suits you. 

If you’re making any major amendments, it’s recommended that you write a new will. Writing a basic will with Unite Wills is free for Unite members, but those looking for a more in-depth will can get one for as little as £59.99. See more about our pricing here.

Writing a new will

As we mentioned, if you want to alter or add anything other than small changes, writing a new will to replace your existing one is usually the best option. The process of doing so isn’t much different to making a will for the first time, but you should be mindful of a few things, including the following: 

  • Ensure that your new will clearly revokes any older wills and/or codicils. 
  • Destroy your old will and any additional copies, because two wills could be found upon your death and it might not be clear which one is the most up-to-date.
  • Tell your executor(s) where the new will is kept so that it’s easily accessible in the event of your passing (lost wills are essentially worthless). 

Does a new will cancel an old will?

If a new will is made, you should always include a revocation clause, which essentially means that it revokes any former wills made – it can be as simple as ‘I revoke all my earlier testamentary dispositions’.  

This way, your family and executors will know exactly what to do when it comes to probate and managing your estate (money, property and other assets).

Making a will with Unite Wills 

Here at Unite Wills, you can create a professional, accurate and legally-valid basic will for free or a more complex will for as little as £59.99. We also provide other related services that may be of use to you.

You are able to write your own personal will online using our digital application form, and once it’s been reviewed by our team of experts, we will send you a copy via post to witness, sign and return for storing securely. 

Start writing your will today or get in touch with us if you have any problems or need help regarding the will-writing process.