It’s hard to believe that most people in the UK don’t have a legally-valid will, and some people fear updating a will might cost more money in the future.
While that can be true depending on your will provider, if you don’t take charge of your estate today, you can end up putting it off for years.
As the pandemic has shown us, life can be turned upside down in an instant and it’s essential to have your estate in order.
Your estate includes assets like any property, personal possessions, investments and money you have when you die.
The purpose of a will is to leave these assets to the people or causes closest to you upon death. After all, you can’t take your assets with you.
The earlier your legally-binding will is drafted, the more likely you are to update it. You should do this after significant events in your life.
If you want to make changes to your will, you need to decide on whether to make a codicil or draft a new will from scratch.
What is a codicil?
If you’re making small changes to an existing will, you can do so with an official alteration called a codicil.
This is a separate document that explains changes to your will, because you can’t change your existing will once it’s been signed and witnessed.
A codicil can be used to elaborate on, modify or revoke something in your existing will. This legal document should be kept with your will at all times.
From a cost perspective, it’s usually cheaper to make a codicil, rather than to draft a new will from scratch.
Your codicil must be signed and witnessed by two people in the same way as your existing will, although you don’t need to use the same witnesses.
And the last thing to remember with codicils is to inform the executors of your will when you make a codicil.
When should you update your will?
According to official guidance from the Government, you should update your will every five years, although we think it’s more unique than that.
You should review your will after any significant life events, such as getting married or divorced, having a child, or moving house.
You could also consider doing it when you inherit any money or property, and in the event a beneficiary, executor or guardian dies before you do.
Should you want to appoint a new executor of your will or wish to add your preferences about funeral or cremation, you should update your will.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to when you should update your will, it’s entirely circumstantial.
To update a will or write a new one?
As a general rule if you’re making small changes to your existing will, it usually costs less to make a codicil to update it.
But if you’re making major changes, it’s best to make a new will, and to revoke all previous ones.
There are some cases which automatically annul existing wills. Getting married, for example, cancels any previous will you’ve made.
However, it’s essential to draft a new will afterwards and get it signed and witnessed in the same way as before to make it legally binding.
If you need to make a codicil or draft a new will, make an appointment with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01656 335145.