Do you have a valid Will? A simple guide to revocation of the Will

A person can revoke his Will anytime by writing a new Will during his lifetime. A new Will will revoke the old Will. The Will is also revoked if the person marries, enters into a civil partnership or orders its destruction.

New Will or Codicil

Revocation can be express as a clause in the new Will.  Any new valid Will or codicil (amendment), will automatically invalidate the whole or part of the old Will.

Marriage or Civil Partnership

A marriage or formation of a civil partnership will automatically revoke the existing Will. The marrying testator must write a new Will. In the absence of the new Will, the testator’s estate will be distributed under the rules of intestacy.

Divorce or Dissolution of Civil Partnership

It is important to note that divorce or dissolution of the civil partnership will not revoke the Will. However, any provisions appointing the former spouse or civil partner as executor or trustee will be invalid.  Any gift left in the Will will fail and will not pass on to a former spouse and civil partner. The failed gift will remain part of the estate of the testator and will be distributed under the rules on intestacy.

Destruction of Will

A Will may be revoked by burning or tearing the Will. It will also be revoked when someone else destroys it in the presence of the testator and at his direction. It is important to note that the testator must have an intention to destroy the Will. Mere physical destruction, accidental damage or destruction by mistake will not invalidate the Will provided its contents can be reconstructed (from a copy held with executors, trustees or solicitor).

Mere alteration or crossing out some clauses or wording or even writing “Revoked” across the Will, will not invalidate the Will. However, if the main or important part of the Will (signature of testator or Witnesses) is destroyed, this will be deemed as the complete destruction of the Will provided the destruction has occurred in the presence of the testator and at his directions.

Alteration is treated as invalid unless they are executed like a Will. The invalid alteration will not invalidate or destroy the Will. The original wording if still readable will stand. Where alteration has resulted in complete obliteration and no one is able to read those words, then, only obliterated words are deemed revoked and the remaining Will will be a valid Will.

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