Great news – you have made a will! Around 60% of UK adults have not yet got around to making a Will, which is such an important part of planning and the most sensible way to protect your assets and express your wishes. You may be wondering whether you can cross this task off your list for good, or whether you will need to revisit your Will to update it?


Our team of Private Client lawyers who specialise in professional Will writing, explore some considerations to make to ensure that your Will remains valid and true to your intentions.


Reviewing Your Will


It is sensible to revisit your Will from time to time to check whether any changes need to be made.


It is a good idea to have a copy of your Will at home (keeping the original stored safely with your Solicitor) so that you can take it out every now and then to sense-check it and ensure that it can be easily found when needed by your executor.


You should aim to check over your Will every 3 – 5 years if nothing has changed, or more frequently if your circumstances have changed drastically. This will help you to gain peace of mind that everything is in order.


When To Update Your Will


Many people will not need to update their Will once it has been written. However, if you have been through some major changes in circumstance since you first wrote your Will, then it is important to make updates in order for your Will to reflect your wishes and work best for your family.


There are a few scenarios where it may be more urgent to update or re-write your Will completely. Some of these instances may include:

  • Getting divorced
  • Having more children
  • The addition of grandchildren
  • The death of an executor
  • Family relationship breakdown
  • Personal change of mind on your estate / assets
  • Marriage or divorce of your children
  • Significant changes to your wealth
  • Moving abroad
  • Changes in tax law

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Marriage, Divorce and Wills


It is important to note that a Will is automatically revoked (cancelled and no longer becomes valid) upon marriage or remarriage unless it is specifically written in anticipation of that marriage.


So, if you have a single Will and then marry, the law will decide on how your estate is inherited. Usually, your estate would automatically go to your husband, wife or civil partner, which tends to suit many relationships, however if you have more complicated circumstances (such as children from a previous relationship or specific wishes involving your assets) then it is advised to re-write a new will after marriage to ensure that your affairs are taken care of.


Wills can be written in anticipation or marriage, which is useful, particularly for couples who have a long engagement or are in a committed relationship and intend to marry later.


If you get divorced then your Will is not automatically revoked, it still stands, however your spouse is treated as if they had predeceased when the absolute is issued. Many people will leave gifts to their spouse and name them as their executor, so it is important to re-write your will when going through a separation. You do not need to wait until you are divorced.


How To Change Your Will


Depending on how your will has been written or how significant the changes are, then you may be able to update your existing will by making a codicil.


A codicil is a legal document that allows you to make small changes to your will. It is lodged with your original and will override the specific area mentioned in the codicil without altering the rest of the will. This can work when making minor changes such as changing your executor if your named executor has died.


If you are making more substantial changes or numerous changes then it is better to re-write your will so that it is clear, and no queries can be made to its validity. Your Solicitor will be able to advise which option is best. If you are changing your main beneficiaries, have been divorced or remarried or are changing more than 10% of your will, then it is advised to start again.


It is important not to leave it too late to update your will. Nobody can know when they will pass away, so it is vital to have your will and other important documents updated as soon as possible. There have been numerous cases of people not changing their wills after major life changes. This can leave a mess, potential litigation, financial difficulty and upset for family members left out of a will unintentionally.


Mental capacity is also important when making updates to your will. A Solicitor will need to be certain that you have full mental capacity to make changes to your will and that you are not being persuaded to make amendments under the influence of a partner or family member. If you can, do not wait until very old age or a terminal diagnosis to make large changes to you will.


Speak to Someone Today


If you are thinking of making your first will, considering updating your will or have any other queries about inheritance planning, then please get in touch with our friendly and compassionate team of solicitors.


Call us on 01256 844888, email enquiries@lambbrooks.com or speak to our online chat assistant today.



Other Articles You May Be Interested in Reading:

How to Choose an Executor or Attorney

What are Mirror Wills & When Are They a Good Idea

8 Simple Steps to Writing a Will


The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.   Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.