Revocation of a Will

What does the revocation of a will mean?

Revocation means to cancel a will. There are a variety of ways to do this. A will can be cancelled by expressly doing so or it can even be possible to cancel a will by implication.

Destroying a will

If a person wants to destroy his will and make another then he must show an intention to entirely revoke the will. If you have a desire to cancel your will then it is advisable to completely destroy it. For example burning it or tearing it up could be reliable methods. If a part of the will were to be found later then this could imply that the destruction of the will was unintentional and as a result the contents of it could still remain to be valid.

Implied Revocation

An implied revocation can occur when a person already has a will but then later writes a new one which is inconsistent with the earlier one. In this situation the more recent will can replace the older one by implication. This normally occurs when the writer of the more recent will does not give any guidance about what he desires to be done with the previous one.

Revocation clause

It is advisable when writing a will to expressly say that the will replaces all former ones and that the new will is the most recent and effective one. This could lead to the avoidance of any confusion if another will was later discovered which was earlier considered to be destroyed.

Circumstances which can revoke a will

Marriage effecting a valid will

It is important to be aware of the fact that if you have previously written a will and then later get married then the entire will written before the marriage will be considered to be invalid. Only in exceptional circumstance of a person expressly making a will in the exception of marriage would a will still be valid.

Divorce effecting a valid will

If a gift is made by the maker of will to his or her spouse and then the couple subsequently divorce this will mean that the gift to the former spouse will be treated as invalid. The gift cannot be passed to the former spouse when the maker of the will dies. It is important to note that this does not affect the whole will but just the gift to the former spouse. The spouse is effectively treated as having predeceased the will.

Alteration of part of the will

It can be possible to cancel a part of a will without resulting in the whole will being entirely made invalid. This can be achieved by making sure that the proposed change is signed or initialled by the maker of the will while in the presence of two witnesses. (This rule can be seen in section 21 of the Wills Act 1837.) If there is a change in a will which is not signed then it will be presumed that the alteration was made after the will was executed or officially made valid. This will mean that the original wording will remain as it was previously written. This is of course dependant on the fact that the wording is still apparent. A number of problems can arise if the original wording can no longer be seen and has been crossed out without being substituted for anything else. This is why it is essential to carry out the necessary precautions and make sure that the change is initialled and witnessed.