Updating your will
Updating Your Will
If your circumstances have changed and you wish to amend your will, there are two options you may consider: a codicil to amend the original will, or revocation (cancellation) of the original will and preparation of a new one.
Your choice of these two options can depend on the change required in the will. Generally, codicils are used for minor changes while a new will is prepared if there are major changes.
Changed circumstances that may necessitate changes to your will can include such things as marriage, divorce or separation, death of an executor or beneficiary, or investing in a significant asset.
Minor changes to your circumstances, such as a change in address, do not require an update to your will, though you may do so if you wish. An old address is sufficient to identify you and your will.
Using a codicil
A codicil is a simple document used for making additions, substitutions or revisions to a will. The original will must never be written on, as this invalidates the will. Instead, a codicil is prepared as a separate document that attaches to the original will.
A codicil can be useful if the proposed change to the will is simple, and the existing will is lengthy and complex. They can also be used to revive an earlier will.
To be valid, a codicil should be in writing and witnessed by two people who are not referred to in the codicil or the will. The signing requirements are the same as those for a will. The witnesses for the codicil do not need to be the same people used as the witnesses for the will.
The codicil should be attached to the will and stored in a safe place.
Once attached to the will, the codicil and the will form the entirety of the will. It is important to ensure the codicil and the will are kept together. If a lawyer has assisted in the preparation of the codicil and the will, they will keep the originals in safe custody and provide you with a copy for your records.
While a codicil may seem to be a simple and cost-effective way of updating provisions in a will, there are many potential risks that may arise. For example:
- The codicil may become separated from the will and overlooked or forgotten;
- Incorrect dates may have been used for the codicil or in reference to the original will, putting the codicil at risk of being invalid; or
- The codicil may inadvertently contradict the original will, causing confusion and making the codicil potentially invalid.
These risks may result in lengthy court proceedings which may end up costing more time and money than would have been spent on the creation of a new will.
Creating a new will
With improved technology and use of computers, creating a new will has become a relatively easy process. Therefore it is often the preferred choice when updates to a will are required.
A new will must revoke the earlier will and follow all the formalities required when making a valid will. It can incorporate all of the proposed amendments, thereby reducing the risk of causing confusion or potentially contradicting an earlier will.
Preparing or amending a will requires careful thought and preparation. As with all areas of estate planning and will drafting, matters can become complex very quickly and seemingly minor oversights can have very large unintended consequences down the track. To get advice from expert estate planning lawyers, please call Certus Legal Group on 07 3106 3016 or contact us using the form on this page.
This article does not give legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended to provide general and summary information on legal topics, current at the time of first publication. You should seek professional legal advice before acting or relying on any of the content contained herein.