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Revising a Will

Revising a Will

You should review your Will whenever there has been a material change in your affairs such as, for example, a birth, death, marriage or marital breakdown in your family, a death of a guardian or executor/trustee, a significant increase or decrease in your net worth, or a change in tax laws.

For instance, the Wills, Estates and Succession Act eliminated some common-law presumptions and changed how gifting provisions worked. If you have child who dies before you (or at the same time) leaving a spouse, the law no longer allows a gift to automatically go to their widow/widower.   Additionally, marriage no longer revokes a Will, but if you were married after your Will was prepared and prior to March 31, 2014, your Will may have been revoked under the old legislation.

Your Will should also be reviewed periodically even when you are unaware of any changes in circumstances which may affect the Will. This will allow you to re-examine the provisions in your Will for your children as they mature, to consider whether a change of executor may be appropriate and whether your Will reflects your current wishes as to the disposition of any newly acquired assets.

Changes to your Will need to be done in accordance with the requirements of the Wills, Estates and Succession Act. If the formal requirements are not followed, any changes to your Will are invalid and of no effect. People often make the mistake of making handwritten revisions to their Wills believing that such changes are valid. If changes are required to your Will, you should consult with an estate lawyer to ensure the changes are made properly.

Minor changes can be made by making a codicil which adds to your Will and requires the same formalities as a Will. Often, it makes more sense to create a new Will that revokes all previous Wills so as to avoid problems with conflicting gifts and reduces the possibility that your estate may incur additional costs proving that all the changes are compliant with the legislation.