#UpdateYourWillWeek - SFE (Solicitors For the Elderly)

30/03/2022

This week which commenced on the 28th of March, was Update Your Will Week with SFE (Solicitors For the Elderly).

SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) was founded in 1996 and is a national organisation of more than 1600 lawyers in the UK who support older and vulnerable people. SFE members receive expert training and best practice guidance to keep them up to date with developments in the sector.

Research commissioned by SFE has revealed that almost half (45%) of people living in the North of England who have a will haven't updated it for more than five years, meaning nearly half of wills made in the area are likely to be out-of-date. Of those, over a third (34%) haven’t updated it for over 7 years, and over a fifth (22%) haven't dusted it off in more than a decade. Having an up-to-date and well drafted Will is crucial in ensuring that your wishes are carried out in the way you would like when you pass away.

This year, SFE, a membership body representing over 1,600 solicitors specialising in working with older and vulnerable people, has launched “Update Your Will Week” (28th March – 3rd April) in a bid to raise awareness of the importance of updating your will regularly.

Our dedicated Wills specialists acknowledge that life is unpredictable and can change in the skip of a heartbeat. We ensure that you can update your Will at any time in the future with ease and effective communication. If you require any assistance regarding your Will, whether that is updating it or taking the initial step of writing your Will, the solicitors at Russell & Russell are here to help you.

When should I update my Will?

Ideally, you should update your Will every two years. Updating your Will this frequently will ensure any changes in your circumstances will be identified in your Will. Some of these changes can include but are not limited to:

  • If you get engaged, married or divorced
  • You have a new child
  • You buy or sell any property
  • You move house
  • Inheritance tax legislation or any law governing Wills changes
  • One of your beneficiaries, guardians or executors dies
  • You want to add a gift or message to a loved one
  • You want to change who is inheriting your estate
  • You inherit money or property

What are codicils?

If you would like to make a minor change to your Will, you should use a codicil. This is a testamentary or a supplementary document that is similar but not identical to a Will. A codicil may serve to amend, rather than replace a previously existing Will. It could be considered as a Will in some jurisdictions, but in others, it serves to amend, rather than replace a Will. It will make the necessary amendments but leave the rest of your Will intact.

A codicil must be documented separately from the Will, but it will be signed and dated like a Will should be. The witnesses required do not have to be the same people that were there for the signing of the original Will.

There is no restriction to the number of codicils that you would like to have, however, they should only be used for simple and straightforward changes including:

  • Increasing the value of a cash gift
  • Appointing a different executor, trustee or guardian
  • Reallocating a bequest or changing your funeral wishes
  • increasing the value of a cash gift

How can I amend or update my Will?

There are many strict formalities and guidelines behind amending an existing Will. If you were to informally handwrite a note with additional instructions and sign it, this will not be considered as sufficient evidence to form a valid amendment to your existing Will. If you were to leave a note stating you would like to amend a gift in your Will, or would like to replace an executor with another person, this would also not be taken into consideration by the courts or the current executors involved.

If there was an alteration to a Will after being properly signed and witnessed, it has to comply with the provisions of Section 21 of the Wills Act (WA 1837), this ensures that alterations should be attested in the following ways:

  • The person making the Will (The Testator) signs and the witnesses attest to the alteration on the same document in a clear and understandable way.
  • There is a memorandum in some part of the Will according to the nature of the alteration with the Testator’s signature and witnesses’ attestation on the same document in a clear and understandable way.

If you would prefer to not draft an entirely new Will and would like to amend your existing Will, then it is a good idea to enter into a Codicil, ensuring that any amendments are in line with the formalities of the Wills Act.

If the required changes to your pre-existing Will are substantial, it would be more effective to draft an entirely new Will which would revoke and eradicate all the terms in your former Wills and Codicils.

How can I update my Will with Russell & Russell Solicitors?

If you have already written your Will with another solicitor or firm, there is a chance that there will be a fee for updating or changing it. This fee could end up costing over £150 and this still does not guarantee that you will have ease in updating it again in the future. If your old Will is out of date, the solicitors can help you make a new Will. Please note that once you have printed and signed your new Will in the presence of new witnesses, you must dispose of your old Will to avoid any misunderstanding with your executors.

To find out more about how to update your Will and the costs involved, please contact the Wills and Probate specialists at Russell & Russell Solicitors by filling out our contact form or alternatively, you can call our Wills & Probate team on 07919 591416.

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