changing-a-will

Changing a Will

Provided you have not become mentally incapacitated, you can always amend your Will. This can be done in one of two ways:

  • You can make an entirely new Will, revoking the old one and replacing it with the new one
  • You can make a codicil. This is a short document that makes a small number of specific changes to the Will (perhaps increase the value of a gift or replace an executor). This does not revoke the existing Will and only alters those sections specifically referred to.

Once you have passed away, your Will can be changed in a number of ways:

  • Deed of Variation. This can be made within 2 years of death and any gift or sum passing to a beneficiary (whether under the Will or by the intestacy rules) can be varied in favour of somebody else. As far as inheritance tax is concerned, the gift would not be treated as a gift by the original beneficiary but rather a distribution from the estate of the deceased. This is a useful way of retrospectively saving inheritance tax.
  • Disclaimer. This is less flexible than a deed of variation. Although it can be oral or written, you cannot disclaim a gift in part – it is all or nothing. In addition, you cannot disclaim in favour of somebody else. You simply disclaim and the gift passes either according to the substitute provisions of the Will or according to the intestacy rules.
  • Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 (see above)

Who should I appoint as my Executor(s)?

This should be somebody who you trust to properly administer your estate, settle debts and tax and distribute the estate according to your wishes. It is an important and sometimes burdensome task and should not be undertaken lightly. Check with the person you intend to appoint that they are happy to act, as they could refuse to do so at a later date. It is generally recommended that you appoint close family members, as they will be best placed to know about your estate and family. In addition, you may wish to appoint a professional (such as a solicitor or accountant), particularly if the estate and/or will is especially complex.

What if a beneficiary cannot be located?

Your executors would have to make extensive searches and ultimately, depending on the circumstances, take out protective insurance or obtain a court order.

When and how often should my will be updated?

  • If you get married – marriage revokes any previous Will
  • If you or a beneficiary change their name
  • If one of your executors dies or becomes unable to act (for example due to mental or physical incapacity or leaving the country)
  • If a beneficiary dies
  • If property referred to in your Will is sold or altered in nature
  • If your estate increases significantly in value (particularly if it increases beyond the inheritance tax threshold)
  • If you divorce


For further information please contact:

Telephone: 0118 974 7540

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