You can change your will by obliterating and rubbing out words, writing between lines, and so on. However, you and the two witnesses must sign each change in the same way that you signed the will originally. The signatures should be as close as possible to each change, usually in the margin. Generally, solicitors charge less for changing a will than for making a new will.
It is better to make a new will that revokes (cancels) all previous wills rather than making major changes to a will.
An addition to a will is called a codicil. Any additions must conform to the normal formalities of a will.
When should I make a new will or change the old one?
You should make a new will or change the old one when
- you marry, because your existing will (unless it already provides for the new spouse) is automatically revoked or made invalid by a marriage
- you divorce, because anything you bequeathed to your spouse is automatically revoked. However, the rest of the will remains operative. During separation before divorce, a will made while you were married remains valid and fully operative
- you want a de facto or same sex partner to inherit all or part of your estate
- you buy or sell substantial assets
- you want to add a new beneficiary, for example, a new child or grandchild; or remove one, for example, if a beneficiary has died or is no longer a family member.
What happens if a will is concealed or destroyed?
It is a criminal offence to conceal a will or codicil. The person who concealed the will or codicil may be forced to pay damages to anyone who incurred a loss as a result of the concealment.
If you destroy your will, it is revoked. If you don’t make a new will, you will die intestate.
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