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Can I legally change my will without a lawyer?

30th March 2020

Yes – you can legally change your will without a lawyer. There are, however, quite a few things to bear in mind if you want to do so. This post focuses on how to change your will by yourself, and what the potential pitfalls are. 

 

Why change your will? 

It’s generally recommended that you review your will every five years or so. This is so it reflects any change in circumstances you might have had – marriages, divorces, and civil partnerships, for instance. If your family has grown, furthermore, you may want to add the new additions as beneficiaries. By keeping your will up-to-date, you can rest assured that everything will be dealt with correctly when the time comes. 

 

Codicils 

The only way to legally change a will is through a codicil. This is an amendment to the document that changes its legal substance. In order to be valid, the same rules apply as when you made the will in the first place. It must be witnessed by two individuals (who are not beneficiaries themselves, or partners of beneficiaries), and be signed and dated by all parties involved. There’s no limit as to how many codicils you make, but if you need to make significant changes, it’s often advisable that you scrap your current will and make a new one entirely. Just be sure to destroy your original will. 

 

Risks of changing your will without a lawyer 

The reason why lawyers are involved at all in will-writing is because it can be tricky business. There are many more aspects to the will writing process that change on a person-to-person basis. Making changes by yourself is recommended against, especially in cases when your estate is more complex than simply leaving money to your spouse or an only child. Only the simplest of wills can be made or changed without the input of a lawyer. Various complications can arise, especially relating to: 

  • Rules around marriage, divorce, and civil partnerships 
  • Shared property with partners that have no legal status in relation to you 
  • Complex family structures, including former married partners and children 
  • Foreign residency and oversees property 
  • Businesses 

 

Will-writing alternatives 

Even with the potential complications, it’s not always necessary to hire the services of a lawyer. If you’re a member of a trade union, you may be entitled to a free service – check with your organisation for further details. Alternatively, you can hire a professional will-writer. They’re generally cheaper than lawyers and provide a similar level of service – although they’re not as tightly regulated as accredited legal professionals. High-quality will-writers are registered either with The Society of Will Writers or the Institute of Professional Will Writers

 

As your circumstances in life change, so too should your will. Whilst it’s possible to make changes to it by yourself, we’d recommend getting professional help to ensure your assets are distributed correctly after your death, whether that be from a lawyer or a registered will-writer. 

 

If you’re looking to make or change a will, then get in contact with IMC. Our professional will-writers know the fine details when it comes to Wills and Estate Planning, meaning that you can rest assured that your assets are handled how you desire when the time comes. 

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