Christmas can sometimes prove to be the breaking point in strained family relationships. Typically, there is a post-Christmas spike in the number of people looking to change their Will.
Although emotions may be running high, it is vital not to be hasty. If you are thinking of making alterations, talk to us first. Our understanding team can advise on your best way forward.
Here we provide some general advice that everyone should consider ahead of changing their Will.
Ensure you have proper reasons
Whilst you do have considerable freedom when making your Will, you cannot do whatever you like. Certain members of your family have the right to challenge your Will if they feel they have been treated unfairly or if you have not made reasonable financial provision for them, and Wills have been overturned where it is believed that they are unreasonable or purely spiteful. The last thing you want is a dispute over your estate.
Don’t alter the original Will document
After your Will has been signed and witnessed, you cannot make any physical changes to it. Writing on it, or even stapling another document to it, risks invalidating it entirely. The only way to make changes is to write a new Will or add a codicil.
Decide whether to use a codicil
A codicil is a testamentary document that amends your Will. It can add to it or revoke and replace parts of it. It must be signed, dated and independently witnessed. It should be kept with the original Will but not attached to it.
Making a codicil can be a cheap and quick way to make minor adjustments. However, there are drawbacks, such as the risk of its being lost. If you use a codicil, it must be professionally drawn up to ensure it is valid and does not affect your original Will in unexpected ways.
Inform your family
As tempting as it may be to keep changes to your Will secret, you should tell your family. If they know ahead of time, and you have had the opportunity to explain your reasons, they are less likely to challenge the Will after your death.
If you cannot face telling them directly, you can use a Letter of Wishes. Your letter can address why you have excluded particular individuals from your Will, deterring them from launching a challenge.
Consult a professional
There are strict rules around changing your Will, and you must make sure to follow them. By seeking professional advice, you will avoid the risk of invalidating your Will or your changes being ineffective. Moreover, you will minimise the risk of your Will being challenged.
Wills and Estate Planning Lawyers, Bournemouth
Changing your Will can be a sensitive matter. Solomons Solicitors can support you throughout the process, ensuring everything is done correctly and with minimal stress. Contact our friendly team today.