How do I change or cancel my will?

Tips on changing or cancelling your will for your estate.

Making a will is important for those who want to express their wishes and their estate is to be dealt with after their death. Since we cannot speak out about what we want once we have passed away, it is important to leave a will so that our wishes are not overlooked. Your will is your chance to let those left behind know what you want in terms of your estate, your beneficiaries and your wishes relating to other matters such as family related matters, funeral arrangements and more.

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. However, some are destined for an earlier-than-expected demise due to illness or injury.

Without a will in place our worldly possessions could end up in the wrong hands and our wishes about various important issues may never be known. This is why it is important to make your will sooner rather than later, so that you have something legal in place in the event of an untimely death.

Although making a will early on is a good idea, it is important to remember that what you write in your will may need to be changed over time, as your circumstances and situation may change over the years. Luckily it is relatively simple to change or even to cancel your will, so you should remember that just because you have made your will it is not set in stone and you can make changes or even cancel should the need arise.

Reasons why changing a will is necessary

Many people decide to write a will in order to ensure that their wishes are expressed with regards to their assets and other issues after they die. Making a will is a hugely important process that cannot be underestimated, as is provides you with a legal channel to express what you want after your death, everything from who you want to benefit from your estate through to your wishes with regards to your funeral, family arrangements, organ donation, and much more.

Some people make the wise decision to make their wills at an earlier age rather than waiting until they are elderly. Many people assume that they do not need to make a will until later in life when they are old but death doesn't necessarily wait until old age, and something unexpected such as an accident or illness could sadly result in your early demise. Writing a will sooner rather than later can therefore prove beneficial because if something like this does happen you will already have a will in place.

Of course, the one thing that you need to bear in mind if you make your will at an earlier age is that there is more time for your circumstances to change, which means that you may need to make changes to your will accordingly. There is no problem with making changes to your will – some people do this many times throughout their lives, as the various changes in their lives warrant a change in their will.

Some of the reasons why you may need to change your will

There are many different reasons why you may need to change your will. If you do find that you need to make changes to your will it is important to do this as quickly as possible, as once again you never known what fate has in store and the last thing you want is to leave it too late. Some of the reasons why you may need to make changes to your will include:

  • 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

It is a good idea to ensure that you review your will on a regular basis so that you can keep up with any changes that you need to make and so that you can make sure that your will is in order. Many people write their will and forget all about it. By the time they pass away and the will comes into force much of the information is outdated and probably differs to what the decedent would have wanted. Reviewing your will every few years helps to ensure that this does not happen.

Making changes to your will

When you first make your will the information that you include is based on your circumstances and situation at the time you write it. However, your circumstances and lifestyle can change and in many cases this could mean that your will also needs to be changed. Making changes to your will isn't a difficult process; it is actually quite straightforward and simple with a choice of possible solutions for making these changes.

Although there are many different reasons why you may find yourself in a position where you need to change your will, a few of the common ones include:

  • Changes in relationships such as marriage, divorce or separation
  • Changes to household, such as having more children
  • The death or departure of one of the beneficiaries in the will
  • A change in assets or wealth
  • Starting a new business
  • Other major changes in circumstances, wealth or family

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

Cancelling your will

There are also certain situations under which your will is cancelled, so this is also something to bear in mind when you write your will. Cancellation can occur under the following circumstances:

  • You write a new will: When you write a new will, the old ones is automatically cancelled out and the new will become the one that is legally valid.
  • Destruction of the will: If you destroy your will, it is cancelled and you would therefore need to make a new one if you wish to have a will in place.
  • Marriage: If you get married or you remarry, your will written prior to the marriage may be cancelled. There can be some exceptions, so this is something that you should look into if you are planning to get married.
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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    LorettaMay 20, 2017

    How do you change the beneficiaries on a will?

    • finder Customer Care
      RenchMay 24, 2017Staff

      Hi Loretta,

      Thank you for your inquiry. Just to confirm that we are a financial comparison website and general information service designed to help consumers make better decisions. Please note that we are not insurance and law experts so we can only offer a general advice.

      Just to confirm, if the changes of your beneficiaries would mean adding/deleting beficiaries of your will? Basically, the process of making changes to the Will vary from state to state. Although generally, you can either:

      – add a codicil to the existing Will
      – revoke the Will and write a completely new one
      – destroy the Will.

      Should you wish to get these processes done smoothly and to get further details, you’d be best to visit you local state’s legalaid official website.

      Hope this information helped.


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