How Much Does it Cost to Change a Will?

28 February 2017

By Head of Wills, Solicitor James Antoniou

If your existing Will has been written by Co-op Legal Services and you want to make changes to it, we'll discuss your circumstances to fully understand what you're looking to do.

If the changes to your Will are small then we'll write new a Will for you, but only charge an amendment fee. Small changes include changing the names of your Executors, Guardians or the value of cash legacies.

If you don't have an existing Will with Co-op Legal Services or you wish to make more substantial changes to your Will, such as introducing new Residuary Beneficiaries or varying how your Residuary Estate is divided, then this would cost the price of a new Will.

Before You Make Changes to Your Will

The first thing is to look at what your current Will says and consider what changes you want to make. Just because there's been a change in circumstances doesn't automatically mean that your Will needs to be updated.

If a change to your Will is required then it's going to be necessary to formally amend it. You should not write the change onto the existing Will, nor should you cross anything out or use correction fluid. The law in England & Wales requires that changes to your Will must be done properly. You have two options: you can either write a new Will or create a Codicil.

A Codicil is a legal document that refers to your existing Will and sets out the alterations that you want to make to it. It does not replace your Will but runs alongside it. A Codicil needs to be signed and witnessed in the same way as a Will in order to be valid. Codicils can be tricky because they have to be cross-referenced against your Will, so the possibility of your wishes being misinterpreted are greater.

Another important aspect to consider is that, if your Estate requires a Grant of Probate when you die, the terms of your original Will and Codicil become a public record. Therefore if you do not want the changes you've made to be clearly visible then you should write a new Will instead. This is typically seen if a Beneficiary is being removed completely or the amount they are due to receive has been reduced by the Codicil.

For these reasons many people choose to put a new Will in place rather than make a Codicil. However the cost of getting a new Will is typically more expensive than having a Codicil.

When Does Your Will Need to be Changed?

Here we look at some typical circumstances and consider whether or not a Will has to be formally changed.

Changing Address

Having an out-of-date address of a Beneficiary, for example, does not invalidate a Will. So whilst it may not contain up to date contact details, it doesn't necessarily mean that your Will needs to be formally changed. In these circumstances you need to consider whether your Executor would still be able to get in contact with the Beneficiary. If not then you could simply put a note with your Will with the latest address.

Adding Completely New Gifts

Any new gifts that you want to make will need to be formally included in your Will if they are to have legal effect.

Including Additional Relatives as Beneficiaries

You should check your existing Will carefully to make sure that what you are looking to do isn't already covered by the terms of your existing Will. For example, you may have a new grandchild that you'd like to include in your Will, but your existing Will may already make a gift to your grandchildren as a class of Beneficiaries. Therefore, as your Will speaks from death, any new grandchildren are automatically included in your Will, because it's the grandchildren you have at your death that are included as Beneficiaries.

However you need to be careful, because if your Will refers to the grandchildren specifically by name, rather than as a class of Beneficiaries, then it will be necessary to amend your Will to include your new grandchild.

New Marriage or Civil Partnership

The act of marriage or civil partnership automatically cancels any previous Will you have in place. The only exception to this is if your existing Will specifically states that you don't want it cancelled in the event of your marriage. If your Will doesn't contain a clause to that effect, then you'll need to put a new Will in place.

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