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Changing a will

Changing a will

Postby shootist » Wed Oct 21, 2015 7:56 am

If a person has made a fairly basic will, nothing unusual in it, and in that will has left a piece of property to a particular beneficiary but wants simply to change that beneficiary to another, what is the simplest way to do this? I have been advised that the most practical and 'bombproof' way, not to mention the cheapest, would be simply to copy the original will word for word except for the change in the name of the beneficiary, then get it signed and witnessed in the usual way. Destroying the original and any copies if possible, notifying the original beneficiary, and leaving a (certified?) copy of the will with the new beneficiary. How does that sound?
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Re: Changing a will

Postby atticus » Wed Oct 21, 2015 9:29 am

Bombproofing. Interesting concept.

That may work. But I understand that execution and attestation (signature and witnessing) are a very major source of problems, particularly when people DIY.

Sometimes economies can turn out to be be false ones.
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Re: Changing a will

Postby shootist » Wed Oct 21, 2015 10:57 am

I was thinking more in the case where the existing will had been drawn up professionally and it is just the one change that is needed.
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Re: Changing a will

Postby theycantdothat » Wed Oct 21, 2015 11:14 am

You can revoke a will:

(a) By destroying it. However, there must be an intention to destroy it as accidental destruction does not count.

(b) By impliedly revoking it. If you make a new will which is inconsistent with the old one you revoke the old one. However, to the extent that it is not inconsitent there is a risk that it only partially revokes the old one.

(c) By express revocation. That puts the matter beyond doubt. Any well-drafted will should contain as a matter of course a statement to the effect that it revokes all former wills and codicils. Express revocation does not require the old will to be destroyed, but destruction is recommended. There is no need to give notice of any change to any beneficiary under the old will.

(d) In certain cases by getting married or divorced.

So, in your case there are two options:

1. Execute a new will revoking the old one which is the same as the old one changing the name of the beneficiary.

2. Execute a codicil revoking the gift to A and making it to B.


If the existing will was drafted by a lawyer then 1 should be safe, subject to extreme care being taken and ensuring the new will is properly executed. Whoever drafted the exisiting will 2 is best avoided as is any DIY when it comes to drafting wills. We can add to that (i) if a will or codicil is witnessed by a lawyer and/or lawyer's employee(s) there is an (almost) irrebuttable presumption that the will was properly executed; and (ii) if after death a will is produced from the custody of a lawyer (especially one who prepared it) there is less chance of it being successfully argued that it is not the will of the testator or does not express his true intentions.
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Re: Changing a will

Postby shootist » Wed Oct 21, 2015 11:17 am

Many thanks for that sound sounding advice.
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Re: Changing a will

Postby dls » Thu Oct 22, 2015 6:57 am

When I was in practice, we kept standard precedents of wills. As the law develops, these precedents were updated to allow for changes of the many sorts which affect these things. Any new will can be better if updated in the newer form.

Such changes can be minor, but the changes are made for a purpose. The older the will being updated, the greater the likelihood that such a change is needed.

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