How is a Will cancelled?

Written by Terry Johansson | 27th September 2013

If a Will is cancelled it is said to be ‘revoked’. A Will can be revoked in a number of ways.

A Will is wholly revoked by marriage unless the Will expressly states that it is made in contemplation of the testator’s future marriage. A Will drafted in this way ensures that the Will remains valid after the marriage. You should always receive legal advice from a solicitor if you intend to prepare a Will prior to your impending marriage.

Divorce will not revoke a Will and will simply invalidate any gifts to the testator’s former spouse. This means that the testator’s former spouse will be treated as if he / she had predeceased the testator and any gifts that the former spouse was to inherit will remain in the estate. The former spouse will also no longer be able to act as executor and trustee.

A new Will revokes an old Will. Most Wills contain a paragraph at the beginning which expressly state that any earlier Wills are revoked. If a Will does not contain this paragraph and multiple Wills are found, there may be doubt as to whether the testator intended to revoke the earlier will or not. In these circumstances, a court will need to make a ruling as to which is the valid Will.

A Will can also be revoked by destroying it as long as there was also the intention that the destruction of the Will would revoke it. To ensure that a Will is revoked by destruction, it should be destroyed completely by burning it, tearing it numerous times or shredding it. This is there is no doubt that the destruction was intentional. Where a Will is accidentally destroyed, it could still be considered valid and the executor will be able to produce a copy or a draft of the Will to apply for Probate.

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