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Updating a will

A will that has been signed cannot be altered, either by crossing out or writing in new clauses, unless the new clauses are executed in the same manner as a will. It is best to make a new will, but it can also be done by adding a codicil to the will. A codicil is an addition, in a separate document, to an earlier will. A codicil has to meet the formal requirements of a will (see valid wills) and should refer to the original will and the date it was made. A codicil to a more complex will might read as follows:

This codicil dated 17 March 1991 is made by me Grace Smith of 3 Brown Street Jonesville formerly a shop assistant and now retired.

I confirm my will dated 10 May 1990 in all respects except that I add to it clause 3A which is that set out below.

3A. I give $500 to Joan Green of 6 Blue Street, Jonesville.

Signed by the testatrixin our joint presenceand attested by us in thepresence of her andof each other……………………... (testatrix signs here)

(two witnesses sign here)

A codicil need not be witnessed by the same people who witnessed the original will, but it must have a properly signed attestation clause.

Cancelling a will A testator who wants to replace, or stop the operation of, an existing will should be sure that the existing will is revoked. A later will may revoke an earlier will by implication, that is, when the terms of the later will contradict the terms of the earlier will. However, this can lead to uncertainty, and so the inclusion of a revocation clause is preferable.

A will can be revoked by tearing it up or otherwise destroying it provided it is with the intention of revoking the will. This must be done by the testator or the testator can ask someone else to do it.

Where a will has been revoked by means of:

  • a legal document revoking the will
  • destruction
  • registered relationship or marriage

a person will die intestate unless a new will is made.

Updating a will  :  Last Revised: Tue Aug 1st 2017
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