Revocation of a Will – 5 Essential Things

What is Revocation of a Will?

A Revocation of a Will is considered revoked if the Testator (person who makes the Will) writes a new Will, marries or remarries, enters into a civil partnership, or orders its destruction.  All these acts will revoke an existing Will. If a person dies without having a valid Will then his estate will be distributed by the rules of intestacy“.

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What is included?                      

  1. What is Revocation of a Will
  2. New Will or Codicil in Revocation of a Will
  3. Marriage or Civil Partnership in Revocation of a Will
  4. Divorce or Dissolution
  5. Destruction of Will
  6. Alteration in the Will

New Will or Codicil in Revocation of a Will

In Wills, Probate, and Trusts a new Will automatically revokes the existing Will. As a practice of revocation of a will, the revocation of the existing Will is incorporated into the new Will by incorporating a clause in the new Will clearly stating that this is the only and last Will of the Testator. By default, a new valid Will or codicil (amendment) will automatically invalidate the whole or part of the old Will.

Marriage or Civil Partnership in Revocation of a Will

A marriage or formation of a civil partnership will automatically revoke the existing Will for making changes in the Will. The marrying testator must write a new Will. If the Testator fails to do so, then his estate will be administered according to the rules of intestacy. This may result in unfairness especially in cases where the testator would have liked to leave his estate to a particular person, or cause but unable to do so under the rules of Intestacy.

revocation unsplash Revocation of a Will - 5 Essential Things
Revocation of a Will

Divorce or Dissolution of Civil Partnership

Contrary to marriage or Civil partnership, It is important to note that a divorce or dissolution of the civil partnership will not revoke the existing Will. However, any provisions appointing the former spouse or civil partner as executor or trustee will be invalid.  Any gift left in the Will (for a former spouse or civil partner) 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 of intestacy. It is advisable to draft a new Will upon a Divorce or Dissolution in order to avoid future complications.

Destruction of Will

A Will may be revoked by burning or tearing of 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 in the Will

Alterations are treated invalid unless they are executed like a Will. This means that the formalities required for the validity of a Will will also apply to any alterations. 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 can read those words, then, only obliterated words are deemed revoked and the remaining Will is deemed valid.

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