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Destroying a Will – What to do with your old Will

Wills should be consistently maintained and altered to reflect the different circumstances which will affect you within your lifetime.  Divorce, the birth of a new child or grandchild and the purchase of additional property would all require that a new Will be drafted.

In most instances, a simple tweaking, removal or addition of a paragraph or two is all that will be required.  However, if your family structure has altered significantly, if your assets have changed dramatically or simply if a number of years have passed since you last prepared your Will, it may be that a completely new Will is required.

But what to do with your old Will?

Firstly, all copies of the original Will must be destroyed in your presence, preferably either by burning or by shredding.  The point here is that it must be absolutely clear to everyone that this is being carried out deliberately and not through accidental causes.    Only by being present and deliberately destroying your Will in the presence of witnesses will the document be considered to have been revoked.  If it was accidentally destroyed in a fire or flood, for example, it would still be valid.

In addition, your new Will must include a clause which officially revokes any other version, including any codicils which you included.  In this way, there can be no misunderstanding about which Will is the valid version.

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