It is pertinent to keep your will updated at all times. During a lifetime there must be a change in your legal heirs and beneficiaries. If you do not update your Will after major life events of your life it may not reflect your wishes given under new circumstances.
You must consider making necessary changes post these life incidents -
1. Marriage - You must certainly review your Will once you are married. If you wish to add your spouse to your Will it may change the percentage of your estate, that another beneficiary or previously written heir was to receive. After your marriage, if you wish to share your estate with your spouse then your Will should accordingly reflect the same.
2. Divorce - Likewise marriage, after divorce your Will should highlight this change, if your spouse was getting a share from your estate and you no longer want to share with them. You can either specify what you want to leave for your former spouse or how you want to distribute your estate post divorce.
3. A new baby - You may want to change the distribution of your estate after birth or adopting a child. You must alter the Will accordingly, specifying categorically what will the new member of the family get.
4. Change of mind about legal heirs - If at any point in time, you have a change of mind about legal heirs, your Will shall incorporate the same.
5. Acquisition or disposition of Assets - Whenever you acquire a new asset or dispose of any asset, the same should be reflected in your Will.
6. Change of executor - If the executor has fallen ill or died or for whatever reason you wish to change the executor you must make such a change in the Will.
How to amend your Will?
The simplest way to amend your Will is by revoking the old Will and making a new Will in its place. In order to do this, you can simply write a statement in a new Will, stating that it revokes all Wills and Codicils you have previously made. The other way of doing the same thing is through a codicil. Codicil is like an amendment or addition to your existing Will. You can use a codicil to add a new provision or revoke the existing Will. A codicil to be valid must be signed, dated and witnessed just like a legal will.
Despite the occurrence or nonoccurrence of these events, it is advisable to review your Will once a year and make any changes you deem fit.
New Will or Codicil?
As a general rule, if the change you wish to make is a minor change you can do so by making a codicil or if the change is more significant and a major one then you can do so by making a new Will altogether.
While revising the Will you must take care of the following points -
1. Revocation of previous Will - While amending the Will, the starting paragraph must state that all the previous Wills are no longer valid.
2. Register the revised Will - For having valid changes in the Will, it is imperative to register the subsequent Will or codicils to prevent any legal challenges over the authenticity of the revised Will.
3. Destroy hard copies of previous Wills - After the changes you made in the Will it is suggestive that you destroy any hard copies of the previous Wills. Though the previous Wills stand cancelled but destroying them ensures that there will be no scope of debate and confusion in the future.