Your will is probably not the highest item on your list of concerns. After all, we tend not to think too much about what will happen after we die. As your life progresses and your circumstances change, however, you may need to alter or even cancel your will.
It is possible to change your will at any time. You may simply have decided against leaving your beloved objets d’art to your nephew, or you may have remarried.
Experts advise that wills should be updated after events such as the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, civil partnership, or a major change in your financial circumstances.
The law relating to wills in Scotland is different from the rest of the UK.
In England and Wales and Northern Ireland, a will is automatically revoked on marriage or civil partnership. There may be an exception to this where your will refers to the impending marriage or civil partnership and explicitly instructs that the will should remain valid.
On divorce, or the dissolving of a civil partnership, a will is not automatically revoked, but some of its provisions will no longer apply. For example, a reference to your spouse will be treated as if the spouse had died on the date the divorce was completed. Therefore, if you leave everything to your spouse then you may as well have died intestate.
If you have a child after writing your will, then you will need to write a new one in order to make that child a beneficiary.
In Scotland, a will is not automatically revoked by marriage or civil partnership. Under Scots law, you cannot write your spouse or your children out of your will. Children are entitled to a third of your moveable estate, and your spouse is entitled to another third. The rest can be left to whoever you want.
To cancel a will, you can write a new one that revokes the previous one. Alternatively, you can simply rip the previous one up.
However, you may want to make only a small change to your will. You cannot just write your changes onto your existing will—this will not make the alterations valid. Instead, you can write what’s known as a codicil.
A codicil is a legally binding document that can be used to supplement an existing will. It is signed, dated and witnessed in the same way as a will. In Scotland, a witness can be a beneficiary to the will. This is not allowed in the rest of the UK.
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