When, Why and How Should I Update My Will?

Once written, signed and witnessed, it is easy to forget about your will and put it out of your mind as a job done. In order to avoid heartache and stress for your loved ones after you die however, it is important to keep your will up to date and in line with your wishes. The good news is, updating or creating a new will is not a difficult job for your solicitor.

When Do I Need to Update My Will?

Your will needs to be updated after significant life events that lead to a change in circumstances. Even if you have no big life changes, it is important and advisable to review your will every five years to ensure it still aligns to your circumstances and what you would like to happen to your estate after you die. You can read how often and under what circumstances the UK government advise updating your will here.

When to Update Your Will

  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Separation
  • Change of address
  • Death of a person named in your will
  • Birth of a child or grandchild
  • Significant change in financial situation


  • Check every 5 years that it still aligns to your wishes and circumstances.

Why Do I Need to Update My Will?

Life changes can alter your wishes relating to the distribution of your estate after you die. Some changes can even invalidate your will, for example, divorce or marriage. Errors in your will can cause undue stress and arguments for your loved ones left behind at what is an already painful time .To avoid this it is important to keep your will up to date.

How Do I Update My Will?

If you need to change your will there are two ways to do so. Depending on the extent of the changes, you can either create a new will or else add a document called a codicil to your existing will.

1. Create a Codicil

Good only for very simple changes to your will, a codicil is a legally binding document that can be useful to supplement  your existing will. It is signed, dated and witnessed just as a will and should be stored with the original will document in a safe place. One example of when you might use a codicil is if you wanted to add an extra clause relating to a specific asset.

2. Create a New Will

For most changes, it is more efficient to write a new will. Once this new will is signed dated and witnessed, any previous will is automatically invalidated and should be destroyed in order to avoid confusion.

Do I Need a Codicil or a New Will?

If you’re unsure which is the best option for you, our wills and probate specialist solicitor Jeremy Clough can offer the most up to date a relevant advice. Read the Wills and Probate section of website here for more information and to find out how to get in touch with Jeremy.