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How To Safely Revoke Your Will

Big changes in personal circumstances can lead to a want to drastically change your Will – and this is not a problem, provided it is done in a legally safe way.

Nina Sperring, Solicitor at Bartletts Solicitors in Hoole, Chester, says: “Making big changes or revoking your Will is possible at any time but must be done in such a way that ensures your new Will is legally valid.

“It is all too easy to think you have destroyed your Will but this is not always enough – to fully revoke a Will, it must be the original that is cancelled. It is also important you either write a new Will or legally alter your existing Will or you run the risk of dying intestate.”

The need to revoke or change your Will legally has recently been highlighted by the case of Blyth v Sykes.

Blyth v Sykes

The family of Mrs Agnes Moore, who died in 2016, ended up having their dispute heard in the High Court, when her daughter Mrs Blyth and son-in-law Mr Sykes couldn’t agree on Mrs Moore’s Will situation.

Mrs Blyth argued her mother had destroyed it, thereby revoking the Will, whilst Mr Sykes said the original Will had simply been lost.

Whether the Will had been destroyed or lost would have a big impact on who benefitted from Mrs Moore’s estate.

Mrs Moore’s Will said her estate should be divided between her three children, Mrs Gail Blyth, Mr William Moore, and Mrs Debbie Sykes and her former husband Mr Leslie Sykes. As with many Wills, her Will stated that if any beneficiaries died before her, their share would be divided between that person’s children.

Debbie died in 2015, and Mrs Blyth argued her mother had torn up her Will after Debbie’s death as she didn’t want Debbie’s children to inherit – according to her, Mrs Moore only wanted her two remaining children and Mr Sykes to benefit.

However, if she did revoke her Will then she’d have died intestate, meaning Mrs Blyth, Mr Moore and Debbie’s children would inherit and Mr Sykes would get nothing.

Hence Mr Sykes argued the Will was merely lost, not revoked.

As the original Will must be destroyed in order to revoke it, the Judge ruled he couldn’t be certain the original had been in Mrs Moore’s possession and that therefore the certified copy of her Will found with her belongings was legally valid.

Rewriting Your Will

Making a Will and then revoking or changing it at a later date when circumstances change is possible if you do so in one of three ways:

  • Write a new Will
  • Put in writing your wish to revoke your Will, and have this document signed and witnessed just like you did with your original Will
  • Destroy your original Will entirely by ripping it to shreds or burning it – something that must be done by you or done in your presence

How We Can Help You Revoke Or Change Your Will

Our professional family lawyers are here to help with all your Will-related queries, including any changes you want to make to your Will or if you want to revoke your Will.

As all our advice is tailored to your needs, we’ll base our guidance on our understanding of your personal situation and help you find the best way for your Will to express your wishes for loved ones when you die – whether that is revoking your Will and writing a new one or drastically changing your existing Will.

We’ll ensure all changes are made in a legally safe way, and we can store your original Will for you so you always know where it is should you want to revoke or make further changes in the future.  

To speak to one of our specialist solicitors about revoking, changing or making a Will, contact us on 0800 988 3674 or email advice@bartletts.co.uk