Skip to content

How To Make A Change To A Will

June 28th, 2023

It’s natural for life to ebb and flow and, as such, there may come a time when you wish to make a change to a will. Changing a will may be necessary if a partner has passed away or your financial circumstances have changed. People also choose to change a will when they move into a care home. This may be to protect any assets further down the line, or to free up cash to pay for the cost of a care home. 

When properly signed and witnessed, a will is a legally binding document. However, making a change to a will is still a fairly straightforward process, which can be done quite quickly when all the necessary arrangements are in order. Read on to find out when it may be time to make changes to a will and how to go about it if and when you do.

What Is A Will?

cytonn photography GJao3ZTX9gU unsplash

A will is a legal document that sets out what will happen to any assets or any dependents in the event of your death. A will clearly sets out how any assets should be distributed. Assets can include pension funds, properties, cars, and stocks and shares. Dependents are considered to be anyone who was financially dependent on the deceased – this could be a spouse or children living at home. 

A will also declares any debts such as mortgages or loans, so that these can be cleared by any assets. After this, the way in which any remaining funds are distributed can be decided by the person making the will. You can choose to divide things between family members or loved ones, or leave charitable donations. 

Types Of Will

There are several types of will to consider. You may wish to completely change a will and have a different type of will if certain circumstances change. For example, if you have a joint will with a partner and your partner has to go into a care home, you may need to amend the will to reflect any change in assets that might be used to pay for residential care. The main types of will are:

Basic Or Single Will

Made by one person, a basic or single will sets out simple details of who should receive what and any funeral arrangements.

Joint Or Mirror Will

These are generally made by couples and mirror each other. They mostly set out that in the event of one spouse dying, the other will receive all assets. When they pass on, any dependents will get the remaining assets. With a mirror will, a change to a will might happen if the widow or widower remarries.

Trust Will

A trust will appoints trustees who then act for the beneficiaries of the will. A trust will adds an extra layer of protection for the beneficiaries of the will. This could be relevant in cases where beneficiaries are still minors.

Property Trust Will

The same as a trust will but pertaining specifically to any property owned by the deceased. A trustee will manage anything to do with the property in the interests of the final beneficiary.

Flexible Trust Wills

Flexible trust wills are popular as they allow a degree of flexibility for modern lives, such as those with second families and different generations of children. This arrangement may reduce the need to change a will.

Discretionary Trust Wills

This type of will allows trustees to decide what happens to the deceased’s estate rather than it being pre-determined in the will. This might be useful in cases where there is a continued income from an estate, such as a business, that will eventually be passed down to children when they come of age.

Living Will

A living will is for those who may become mentally unable to make sound decisions about their care whilst they’re still alive and states any treatment that should be refused. Moving into a care home can often prompt people to make a living will to ensure that if they lose any mental cognition as they continue to age, they can still advocate for themselves. This is especially relevant for anyone who has received a diagnosis of a degenerative disease like dementia or Parkinson’s.

As a living will pertains to any treatment or care you receive whilst you are alive, you would still need another will to deal with financial decisions after your death. You might also appoint a power of attorney in similar circumstances as an extra layer of protection.

The Executor Of A Will

constantin wenning idDvA4jPBO8 unsplash scaled

An executor of a will is the person named in the will who acts on behalf of the deceased. They make sure that the wishes set out in the will are carried out correctly and distribute assets as intended. 

Duties of the executor of a will include:

  • Apply for probate. Probate is the document that gives the executor the right to access and distribute the assets
  • Settling any bills owed, such as mortgage payments or credit card debts
  • Collecting any assets, such as pensions or National Insurance payments
  • Managing the distribution of the estate to beneficiaries 
  • Arranging the funeral if requested to do so in the will

Can Executors Change A Will?

An executor of a will cannot generally make any changes to the will. They must act as per the deceased’s requests. In some cases, if all parties agree, a beneficiary can make a change to a will. As an executor can also be a beneficiary, in this instance, an executor of a will could make a change. 

Reasons To Change A Will 

There are several reasons why you might want to make a change to a will. It is wise to review your will every three to five years to make sure that it is still relevant and up to date. This will ensure that if any amendments are necessary then you can change a will in good time. Possible reasons for making changes to a will are:

  • A change in family circumstances, for example, births, deaths, marriage or divorce
  • If the executor of your will passes away before you do then a new executor would need to be named
  • A desire to change the beneficiary or beneficiaries for personal reasons
  • Selling any assets which would alter what is to be distributed in your will significantly
  • Acquiring assets, for example receiving an inheritance of your own might require a change to a will
  • To change the type of will in light of any life changes. A basic will might need to be changed to a living will if someone develops a degenerative condition like dementia

tierra mallorca JXI2Ap8dTNc unsplash scaled

Changing A Will When Moving Into A Care Home

One of the reasons people sometimes change a will is if you or a loved one are considering a move into a care home. It may be that you are releasing some assets to help with the cost of a care home, and need to make changes to a will to reflect this.  

Talk through your decision with family members first so they understand your intentions. Deciding to move into a care home, or making that decision for a loved one, is a significant event that requires thought and input from everyone involved – even more so if you wish to make a change to a will to fund the care. 

How To Change A Will 

If you have decided you definitely want to make a change to a will, there are a few things you will need to consider:

The Type Of Change

There are two types of changes to a will. The first is called a Codicil and is for minor changes. These small changes can be added to an existing will but must still be signed and witnessed to make them legally binding.

The second type of change to a will is to make a whole new will. This usually happens when changes are significant. You would need to write a new will and revoke the old one.

Using Legal Representation

It is not a legal requirement to have a legal professional handle your will. However, it is advisable. They will be able to make sure that any changes to a will are valid and accurate and that your wishes are executed. It is especially wise to use a solicitor or will writer if the changes to a will, or the instructions within, are complicated.

Preparing The Amendments Or New Will

When you’ve decided if you’ll be using legal help or doing it yourself, you can start to draft the new will or codicil. This is when you will actually set out each change or write your new will. Be very clear with your instructions to avoid any disputes later on.

Revoking The Old Will

When you make a small change to a will and add a codicil, you simply add it to the existing will. However, if you are writing an entirely new will, you will need to make sure the old one is revoked. This involves adding a revocation clause to your new will. You will need to state that this new will revokes, or cancels, any previous wills or codicils. Make sure you then destroy any earlier versions of your will to be sure there will be no confusion when the time comes to execute your will. 

Executing The Changes

To ensure the new will or codicil is binding, you will need to have two independent witnesses sign the document. These witnesses must be over 18 and cannot be beneficiaries of the will, or spouses of the beneficiaries.

Who To Tell

Once any changes to a will have been made official and the old will has been destroyed, you need to tell any relevant parties. The executor of the will should ideally be informed and, although you are under no obligation to do so, it may be helpful to tell beneficiaries about the changes to a will so they understand why the changes were made. This could mitigate any disagreements that may arise. 

Store your will safely away. You could leave it in a secure place in your home and advise your executor where to find it, or leave it with a solicitor or the probate service. Wherever you store your will, make sure at least one person knows where it is. 

maksym kaharlytskyi Q9y3LRuuxmg unsplash scaled

Regular Reviews

As with any will, whether a new will or after making a change to a will, it is a good idea to regularly review your will and make any updates as necessary. You can make as many changes to a will as you wish.

New Care Homes

Making decisions about the next stage of life can be daunting. At New Care Homes, we understand the importance of taking time to think about these decisions and any financial implications. We provide residential, nursing, respite and dementia care, and have highly trained staff that can help with the transition into a care home. 

New Care Homes has locations across the country, all with luxurious interiors, fine dining restaurants and a choice of care options. Please contact us to find out more about New Care Homes, or to arrange a visit to any of our care centres.