April 16, 2024

Undoing the Ink: Understanding the Revocation of Wills

This post was written by: Emma Wallace


Writing a Will is a significant step in ensuring that your wishes are carried out after you pass away. It provides a blueprint for the distribution of your assets and can offer peace of mind to both you and your loved ones. However, life is unpredictable, and circumstances may change after you’ve drafted your Will. In such cases, the revocation of a Will becomes a crucial legal process. Let’s delve into the intricacies of Will revocation, understanding its importance and the methods involved.

Understanding Will Revocation:

Revoking a Will essentially means cancelling or invalidating it. This can be necessary for various reasons, such as changes in personal circumstances, relationships, or financial status. It is important to note that revoking a Will effectively nullifies any instructions or provisions previously outlined in the document.

Common Reasons for Revoking a Will:

Change in Family Dynamics: Relationships evolve over time. Marriages, divorces, births, and deaths can significantly impact how you wish to distribute your assets.

Asset Changes: Significant changes in your financial situation, such as acquiring new properties or businesses, may necessitate adjustments to your Will.

Change in Executors or Beneficiaries: If your appointed executors and/or beneficiaries become unsuitable or ineligible for any reason, you may need to revise your Will accordingly. Unfortunately, family disagreements can happen in life, and you may no longer wish to leave your legacy to someone who you previously thought you did. Or vice versa, you may make a new life-long friend whom you wish to thank or leave something precious to. 

A Mere Desire to Update Instructions: Your preferences regarding asset distribution or specific instructions may change as you grow older or experience life-altering events. 

Methods of Will Revocation:

  1. Creating a New Will: The most certain and common method of revoking a Will is by drafting a new one. A subsequent Will typically includes a clause explicitly revoking all previous Wills and codicils. In legal terms, this is called a revocation clause. 
  1. Physical Destruction: Destroying the original copy of your Will with the intention of revoking it is another valid method. This can be done by tearing, shredding, burning, or otherwise mutilating the document. However, accidental damage or a lack of intention to revoke a Will creates a risk that previous copies may be declared as valid.
  1. Written Revocation: You can also revoke your Will by executing a written document expressing your intention to revoke it. This document should be signed and witnessed the same way as a Will. 
  1. Marriage or Civil Partnership – Wills are automatically considered invalid on a marriage or civil partnership, unless you stipulate that you intend to marry at the time that you create your Will. This method may result in testators unintentionally revoking their Will. There are some exceptions to the rule, for example Wills are not revoked if a same sex civil partnership is converted into a marriage. 

It is important to consider that divorce does not revoke a Will. Instead, it means that the divorcee is presumed to have predeceased the testator. 

Legal Considerations:

While the process of revoking a Will may seem straightforward, it’s crucial to adhere to legal requirements to ensure validity and avoid potential disputes. Laws regarding Will revocation vary by jurisdiction, so it is highly advisable to speak to our private client solicitor, Lara Thomas, to help you to navigate the process smoothly, effectively, and worry-free. 


In the journey of life, change is inevitable, and our plans must adapt accordingly. The revocation of a Will provides the flexibility to reflect these changes and ensure that our final wishes accurately align with our circumstances and desires. Whether prompted by familial changes, financial shifts, or personal growth, the ability to revoke a Will underscores the importance of periodic review and updates to estate planning documents. By understanding the process of Will revocation and seeking appropriate legal counsel when needed, we can safeguard our legacies and provide clarity and peace of mind for our loved ones. It is advisable that you should review your Will every 5 years.

Legal Jargon Explained:

Testator: A person who has made a Will (the female version is Testatrix)

Executor: A person appointment by the testator in a Will to carry out the terms of the Will. They are responsible for dealing with the administration of the estate on the death of the testator and for distributing the funds to the beneficiaries.

Beneficiary: A person (or organisation) designated in a Will to receive benefits or assets in a Will. 

Predecease: A situation where one individual dies before another.

For any queries on this topic, contact our team on 01753 486 777 or contact us via our website.