Revisions to Wills – “What do I do with the old Will when I raise a new one?”

My Company offers a two-yearly review of all the documents it produces for its clients. This service is intended to remind clients that since they originally wrote their Wills (and/or other documents) their circumstances may have changed. For example, they may have had additions to the family, someone may have got married, someone may have got divorced, someone may have died and yes, someone may have fallen out of favour. Whatever the reason, it is a very wise decision to keep your Will, your Lasting Power of Attorney, your Trusts under review, so that when something eventually does happen and the document(s) are needed they reflect the current situation and not that which applied umpteen years ago!

We no longer recommend Codicils to Wills. A separate document which sat alongside the original Will and made reference to its content and the changes which were to be made by virtue of it, Codicils required Attestation by the Testator and two witnesses in the same way as the original Will, then were kept loose-leaf with the original. The danger was that because nothing must ever be attached to a Will by paper-clips, staples, glue, sellotape or other fixative, the codicil often got mislaid and therefore was never read, so the original Will content prevailed anyway. With the advent of computer technology, to re-raise a Will with amended clauses is quick and easy, so why risk losing an additional document when the amendmends required can be so quickly incorporated within the original document, resigned and witnessed.

Of course, this in itself raises the question – “What do I do with the old Will when I raise a new one?”

All Wills have a clause called the “Revocation” which revokes all former Wills – meaning it cancels or negates any previous Wills, so provided the old and new documents are dated, STRICTLY speaking, there is no requirement to physically destroy any former document. However, what about any “skullduggery” which may be performed by some ill-intentioned family member or so-called friend? If you really want to be absolutely sure that the latest Will is indeed the Will which takes effect when needed, ensure you personally destroy any previous editions yourself , preferably by shredding. Or, in the case of most of my clients, request in writing to my Company that your previous document is shredded and we will confirm when this has been done.