Is Your Will Out­dated? So­li­citor Shares Legal Tips and Warns of Dis­putes Over Old Wills

Press Release


Paper waste in a basket and around on the floor
When updating or replacing a Will, it’s important to properly destroy the old document to avoid any confusion or legal disputes.

Did you know that cre­at­ing a new Will doesn’t auto­mat­ic­ally cancel an old one? A Last Will is a doc­u­ment that evolves over a life­time and should be re­vised reg­u­larly. The ma­jor­ity of legal dis­putes could be avoided by prop­erly up­dat­ing your Last Will and des­troy­ing any pre­vi­ous ver­sions.

Catrin Le Rendu, a UK so­li­citor at the Nordic Legal Tech com­pany Aatos, has en­countered many tricky situ­ations re­lated to re­vis­ing a Last Will. Le Rendu offers in­sights on how to revise a Last Will cor­rectly, re­veals when your final wishes should be up­dated, and warns of the po­ten­tial con­sequences of not re­vok­ing an old Will.

"A Last Will is a doc­u­ment that should be re­vised reg­u­larly, es­pe­cially during sig­ni­fic­ant life events such as the birth of a child, the be­gin­ning of a re­la­tion­ship, mar­riage, di­vorce, pur­chas­ing real estate, or re­ceiv­ing an in­her­it­ance. However, up­dat­ing a Will re­quires care­ful at­ten­tion to ensure the old Will is not ac­ci­dent­ally still in effect, which could cause con­fu­sion and un­ne­ces­sary family dis­putes," says Le Rendu.

It's im­port­ant to clearly state in the new Will that the test­ator wants to cancel all pre­vi­ous Wills to avoid any con­fu­sion. Oth­er­wise, the ex­ecut­ors of your Will could end up in a very tricky legal situ­ation.

“Ideally, you should use lan­guage like 'this Will re­vokes any pre­vi­ous Wills or co­di­cils.' This state­ment, known as a re­voc­a­tion clause, serves as a clear mes­sage that the new Will su­per­sedes any prior ones,” says Le Rendu.

When draft­ing a new Will, it has the power to revoke any pre­vi­ous Wills you've cre­ated, but you need to ex­pressly state so in the new doc­u­ment to show your in­ten­tion of re­pla­cing the old Will.

Top 8 cases, when your old Will could haunt your heirs

  1. Cases of Par­tial Re­voc­a­tion: You might decide to update who in­her­its a spe­cif­ic item or amount of money but leave the rest of your earlier Will un­changed.  
  2. Pos­sess­ing Assets in Mul­tiple Coun­tries: If you create a new Will that solely ad­dresses assets in the UK and in­cludes a clause re­vok­ing all pre­vi­ous Wills, un­cer­tain­ties may arise re­garding assets loc­ated in other coun­tries, such as prop­erty in India.
  3. New Will is Vague or Con­tains In­con­sist­en­cies: The new Will might not fully cancel the pre­vi­ous ones. This can lead to con­fu­sion and po­ten­tial legal chal­lenges, so it’s im­port­ant to be as clear and spe­cif­ic as pos­sible.
  4. Major Life Events: Get­ting mar­ried auto­mat­ic­ally re­vokes any pre­vi­ous Wills unless your Will ex­pli­citly states it was made in con­tem­pla­tion of that mar­riage.
  5. Failure to Com­mu­nic­ate Changes: Not in­form­ing rel­ev­ant parties (ex­ecut­ors, be­ne­fi­ciar­ies, etc.) about the ex­ist­ence of a new Will can lead to com­plic­a­tions if the old Will ends up being acted upon in­stead.
  6. Re­ten­tion of Copies of Old Wills: Keep­ing old copies of pre­vi­ous Wills without mark­ing them as void can create con­fu­sion, es­pe­cially if these copies are dis­covered after your death.
  7. Di­git­al Assets: Fail­ing to ac­count for di­git­al assets and online ac­coun­ts in a new Will can lead to un­in­tended dis­tri­bu­tions (i.e. the old Will's pro­vi­sions may be ap­plied to these assets, caus­ing com­plic­a­tions if they are not aligned).
  8. Dis­in­her­it­ance Issues: If the new Will dis­in­her­its someone who was a be­ne­fi­ciary in the old Will without clear and spe­cif­ic reas­ons, it might lead to legal chal­lenges from the dis­in­her­ited party.

When up­dat­ing or re­pla­cing a Will, it’s im­port­ant to prop­erly destroy the old doc­u­ment to avoid any con­fu­sion or legal dis­putes.

“The best way to do this is to phys­ic­ally destroy the doc­u­ment to ensure it can't be used or presen­ted as a valid Will,” ex­plains Le Rendu.

A simple Will can easily cost up to £1,000 in the UK, so it’s a doc­u­ment that rarely gets up­dated. Aatos offers a sub­scrip­tion that in­cludes access to all legal doc­u­ments, di­git­al stor­age, un­lim­ited re­vi­sions, and on­going legal ser­vices for only £99 per year.

Read more about how A New Will Doesn’t Cancel an Old Will


Catrin Le Rendu
UK So­li­citor

Mariia Kukkakorpi
Com­mu­nic­a­tions Man­ager

Aatos is a lead­ing di­git­al legal ser­vice in the Nor­dics provid­ing com­pre­hens­ive, af­ford­able legal solu­tions across Fin­land, Sweden, Den­mark, and the United King­dom. Aatos spe­cial­ises in per­son­al legal doc­u­ments and advice, making legal ser­vices ac­cess­ible and un­der­stand­able for every­one. Aatos’s ser­vices in­clude e.g. draft­ing Last Wills, Pren­ups and Lasting Power of At­tor­neys.

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