How do I change or cancel my will?
Read this before changing or cancelling your will for your estate.
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Having your wishes expressed and estate dealt in the event of our death is important. Your will is your chance to let those left behind know what you want in terms of beneficiaries and wishes relating to family related matters, funeral arrangements, and more.
Getting your will sorted sooner is better than later
Timing is crucial when it comes to making a will. Some people wait until they are older before they look at making a will, as we all like to assume that we will live to a ripe old age. This is unfortunately not always the case due to things such as illness or injury. Without a will in place our worldly possessions could end up in the wrong hands and our final wishes may never be known. This is why it is important to make your will sooner rather than later.
Need to make a change?
Nothing is set in stone, and what you write in your will may need to be changed over time, as your circumstances and situation change over the years. Luckily, changing or even to cancelling your will is a simple affair.
Should I change my will?
Making a will is a hugely important process, as it provides you with a legal channel to express what you want after your death. Everything from beneficiaries of your estate through to your wishes with regards to your funeral, family arrangements, organ donation, and much more.
If you make your will at an earlier age is that there is more time for your circumstances to change. This means that you will most likely need to make changes to your will.
Anything from a divorce to marriage, adoption or changes in wealth will need to be accounted for to be sure your will remains up to date and covers your entire estate. There is no problem with making changes to your will – some people do this many times throughout their lives!
- You get married or divorced
- Changes in relationships with beneficiaries
- The needs of your children or family changes
- Changes to your assets and wealth
- Changes to your wishes in terms of various issues such as organ donation, your funeral, who you want as executor, etc.
- Changes to your business or career
- Changes in your financial situation
- The addition of things such as insurance policies
- Joining or leaving a superannuation scheme
- The death of beneficiaries named in your will
Making changes to your will
If you find that you do need to make changes to your will, you need to bear in mind that there are a number of ways in which this can be done. You need to determine which of these methods is going to be suitable for you.
The options include:
- Making changes to the original will: Although you can make changes to the original will, this can be a messy process and many people therefore recommend avoiding this particular option.
- Adding to the will: You can make a legal addition to your existing will, which is known as a codicil. This is something that is best done with the help of a lawyer due to certain rules that are attached. It must also be signed and witnessed in the same way as the original will.
- Making a new will: You may find that the easiest option is to make a new will altogether, particularly if you have substantial changes to make to the will. This will automatically mean that the original will become null and voice and your newest will becomes the one that is legally valid
How to revoke or cancel your will
A will remains in force until you make formal changes to it or revoke it. If your circumstances change, it doesn't alter the will. The only exceptions to this is when you marry or divorce. Here are the main ways in which you can revoke (cancel) a will:
Revoking by marriage
If you get married or you remarry, your will written prior to the marriage may be cancelled. If you're making a will in anticipation of marriage, you should consult a lawyer. If you marry after making a will that was not made in anticipation of the marriage but you want it to stay the same, you should still make a new one.
Revoking by divorce
A divorce will not revoke the whole will but it will revoke any gift to your former spouse and they will no longer be considered an executor, trustee or guardian, unless you specify otherwise.
Revocation by another will
When you write a new will, most will have a clause revoking the prior will. In most circumstances, this is relatively straightforward.
Revocation by declaration in writing
Any writing declaring an intention to revoke or cancel a will is ordinarily sufficient, executed in accordance with the proper legal requirements (section 6).
Keep in mind that once a will has been signed, you can't alter or cross out writing in new clauses. To alter it, the will-maker and witnesses must sign in the margin or near the alteration to ensure any changes are legal. If this isn't done, the alteration will not be effective.
Revocation by destruction
To revoke by destruction, the person who made the will must fully intend to destroy the will, and actually destroy it. To destroy a will, you need to actually rip, shred or cut up the will so that the important parts of it are not legible.
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