Thinking about changing your will? Don’t worry — it’s normal. Life changes pretty fast, and it’s natural that your will would need to as well. Grandkids, a new house, a marriage: all good reasons to amend your wishes toot-sweet. Here’s how to change a will.

Thinking about changing a will after a death? Skip ahead here.


When do you need to change your will?

It’s best to check your will regularly to make sure your wishes haven’t changed. But it’s especially important if there’s been a big change in your life. For example:

  • Having a new child, or grandchild
  • Someone in your will dying
  • Getting married — in England and Wales, this means your will isn’t valid anymore
  • Getting divorced — your will is still valid, but your ex-spouse can’t inherit. This can make it much less practical.

Or any other big shift. Changing a will after the death of a spouse is normal, for example.


My will is out of date! What do I do?

Changing a will without a lawyer (and a lawyer’s fees) is tempting. But the first thing to remember is not to write on the existing will. This will likely make it invalid.

So, how can you change your will? You have two options: making a codicil or writing a new will.


How to change your will with a codicil

A codicil is a legal document that can add a change to your will. You don’t have to do anything to the original will: you just keep the codicil with it.

There’s no rules on what you can and can’t change with a codicil. But they’re only really suitable if you’d like to make a very small change. For example, updating the last name of a beneficiary who has gotten married.

To make the codicil valid, you’ll need to sign it in front of witnesses — like your original will. You just have to make sure that they (or their partner) don’t benefit from the change. Otherwise, the codicil won’t be valid.

You should keep your codicil with your original will, but not attached to it. Stapling the two together can affect their validity.


How to make a new will

A codicil is okay for one or two small changes to your will. But most of the time, it’s best to write a new one.

Your new will should say that it revokes all previous wills. The exception is if you have a separate will for assets in another country. In which case, you need to make sure the new will doesn’t counteract it.

When you make a new will, it’s important to destroy your old will completely, plus any copies. You don’t want anyone confusing the old will for the real one.

Once you’ve finished your will, keep it safe — and tell your executor where to find it!


Changing a will without a lawyer

At Beyond, you can make a new will online in just 15 minutes. No need for a lengthy meeting with a solicitor, and no fuss. You answer simple questions, and we create a valid will with all the right legal language. All you do then is print and sign with your witnesses.

It only costs £90 to create your first will with us, after which you can make unlimited changes to it for just £10 a year. And a legal expert checks every will. Find out more here.


Can you change a will after a death?

Sometimes, someone will die before they get around to updating their will. Other times, a family member makes a will that is just unfair. In these cases, you can’t simply edit the will. But you do have options:

  • A deed of variation. This legal document allows the people who benefit from a will to give someone else some of their share. It’s the simplest way of changing a will after a death. But (as you need the agreement of the people who would lose out) it isn’t always possible.
  • Contesting the will. You may be able to contest the validity of the will or make a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975. Contesting a will can be both expensive and divisive, so it’s only practical if you have strong grounds to do so.


Go ahead, update your will

Wills are not a one-time-only event. They’re actually quite simple to change. Meanwhile, an outdated will can cause a lot of stress for those left behind. So, if you’re thinking of changing your will, go for it. And remember: we’re here to help. 

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