12th October 2023

The importance of updating your Will

Your Will is one of the most important legal documents that you will create during your lifetime. However, it is a common oversight to not review and update your Will consistently, whether this be by an entirely new Will or a Codicil.

It is important that you update your Will as certain changes occur in your lifetime. Your Will should reflect such changes which take place. It is advised to review your Will every 5 years, albeit this can be done when any of the following life events take place:

  • Getting married: this automatically revokes any previous Will that you may have previously made and a new Will is needed.
  • Having children or grandchildren: you will most likely wish to now include this class of beneficiaries in your Will.
  • If an Executor or Beneficiary in your Will dies or gets so elderly/unwell that it is unreasonable to expect them to act: you will need to update your Will to reflect the new Executor or Beneficiary.
  • Getting separated or getting divorced: you may wish for your ex-spouse to be removed from your current wishes under your Will if you have left a significant amount of your estate with them as soon as you have made the decision to separate, this will guard against the risk of you dying before the Final Order of the divorce comes through. Legally, when you divorce, the Will reads as though the ex-spouse has predeceased so any gift to your now ex-spouse will not take effect.
  • Moving house or owning another property: if you have specifically bequeathed a certain property and no longer own that property then this gift will fail.
  • Your financial situation has significantly changed since your previous Will: whereby the value of your assets has grown or diminished – this can relate to an intended gift or to your value of shares etc.
  • A gift has changed in your Will: if your financial situation has changed since you wrote your Will or you intend to make an additional gift under your Will, you may wish to update your Will to reflect this to scale back or remove a legacy.

How to update your Will

There are two common ways in which you can update our Will, these will usually depend on whether the change(s) to your Will are small and insignificant or significant. It is also imperative that any updates to your Will do not invalidate the Will, so a professional should be used.

  • If the former is applicable and the change is small and insignificant, it is advised that you change your Will by way of a Codicil, which is an additional or supplementary document to your existing Will. With this, you can make minor modifications, with reference to your current Will, or potentially revoke an aspect of it.

Examples of minor amendments include (but are not limited to): appointing a new Executor or Trustee, changing the monetary value of a set sum gift and changing a person’s name or address.

  • If the latter is applicable and there are various major changes that you wish to make to your Will, it is advised that you make an entirely new Will. Your new Will should revoke any previous Will or Codicil which you have made, which is usually found in one of the first clauses in your new Will.

Both of these legal documents must still be signed and witnessed again similarly to how your previous Will was signed and witnessed, to maintain the formal validity of your Will.

For any updates you may require to your existing Will or for any general questions you may have, please contact one of our Private Client solicitors in Tunbridge Wells, Cranbrook or East Grinstead on 01892 510222. Please feel free to update us of any changes to your own address or the contact address details of others, such as Executors, if we are currently storing your Will.