If you’ve experienced a change in personal circumstances, you might decide you need to make alterations to your will.

When this situation arises, it’s essential that you don’t action these changes by simply amending your original will after it has been successfully signed with witnesses. Any noticeable changes to the legal document will be assumed to have been added later than the date of signing and will not be classed as part of the original valid will.

There are only two ways of making changes to a will – you can either add a codicil to your will, or make a new one entirely.

What is a codicil?

A codicil is an addition to a will that makes one or several alterations to the document while leaving the remainder intact. This may be useful under many different circumstances, from changing a guardian or executor listed, adding beneficiaries or increasing the amount you bequeath to someone.

Codicils must always be signed by the person making the will and witnessed accordingly, although witnesses can be different to those used for the original document.

You can update your will with as many codicils as you require, but they are best employed for simple and straightforward changes.

Drawing up a new will

When a more complex amendment is required, the best policy is to make a brand-new will. It’s advised to begin any new will with a clause affirming that the document revokes any previous wills made along with their codicils. The old will should then be destroyed along with any copies made.

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