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Changing a Will

edited 6 July at 11:02AM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
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seven-day-weekendseven-day-weekend Forumite
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edited 6 July at 11:02AM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
I am executor to an elderly lady's will.  She is still alive so I have not had to carry out my duties yet.

At the moment the will says a third share each to two charities and a person.  She wants me to change the will to say £1000 each to the charities and the rest to the person.
I assume I am allowed to do this, providing she signs it and has it witnessed?  Or would a codicil be better?

We can use mostly use the wording of the original will.

Advice welcomed.
(AKA HRH_MUngo)
Member #10 of £2 savers club
Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology: Terry Eagleton
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  • edited 6 July at 12:15PM
    MojisolaMojisola Forumite
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    edited 6 July at 12:15PM
    At the moment the will says a third share each to two charities and a person.  She wants me to change the will to say £1000 each to the charities and the rest to the person.
    I assume I am allowed to do this, providing she signs it and has it witnessed?  Or would a codicil be better?
    We can use mostly use the wording of the original will.
    If you mean can she make a new will, changing the way her money is left - that's fine.  If it's very simple and the wording is absolutely clear, it's possible to DIY though using a solicitor would be better.  As executor, if it's wrong, you're going to be the one with a mess to clear up!
    If you're talking about crossing things out and writing new amounts on the current will - absolutely not.
    If a new will is made, make sure the signed copy of the old one is destroyed. 
  • UndervaluedUndervalued Forumite
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    Indeed.

    For similar reasons I would strongly advise against leaving a percentage of an estate to a charity. By all means leave them a fixed legacy if that is what she wants to do.

    However with a percentage the charity may get their teeth into investigating whether the executors have done everything possible the maximise the value of the estate.
  • MalthusianMalthusian Forumite
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    Presumably "a person" is you? If not, why are you being stuck with the job?
    She should absolutely see a solicitor. If the difference between a third of the estate and £1,000 is material, expect the Will to be challenged. Of course the charities might never find out about the old Will, but given how much effort they put into getting themselves "remembered", there's every chance they know about it already.
    If you're not the beneficiary, and the old lady goes under a bus tomorrow, whether she's made her new Will or not, for God's sake renounce. Failing that, give the job to a solicitor.
  • seven-day-weekendseven-day-weekend Forumite
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    Mojisola said:
    At the moment the will says a third share each to two charities and a person.  She wants me to change the will to say £1000 each to the charities and the rest to the person.
    I assume I am allowed to do this, providing she signs it and has it witnessed?  Or would a codicil be better?
    We can use mostly use the wording of the original will.
    If you mean can she make a new will, changing the way her money is left - that's fine.  If it's very simple and the wording is absolutely clear, it's possible to DIY though using a solicitor would be better.  As executor, if it's wrong, you're going to be the one with a mess to clear up!
    If you're talking about crossing things out and writing new amounts on the current will - absolutely not.
    If a new will is made, make sure the signed copy of the old one is destroyed. 
    No....I meant a new one!  Thanks for your reply.
    (AKA HRH_MUngo)
    Member #10 of £2 savers club
    Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology: Terry Eagleton
  • Important update! We have recently reviewed and updated our Forum Rules and FAQs. Please take the time to familiarise yourself with the latest version.
  • MojisolaMojisola Forumite
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    If the difference between a third of the estate and £1,000 is material, expect the Will to be challenged. Of course the charities might never find out about the old Will, but given how much effort they put into getting themselves "remembered", there's every chance they know about it already.
    If the current will was made through a charity or a solicitor doing a 'free will for a charity donation', it's likely that they will know about it.
    If that's so, the testator could write a letter to be kept with the will explaining why she had changed her mind. 
    Some charities can be very difficult in pursuing their share and even more so if they think their share has been reduced.  If they are small, local charities it won't be such a problem.
  • AnotherJoeAnotherJoe Forumite
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    ... what could possibly go wrong, eh ?
  • MovingForwardsMovingForwards Forumite
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    When excluding someone from a will or reducing a gift to someone, do it through a solicitor as they keep notes which will always back up why it was.
    Also leave a letter with the will, in your own words, signed, explaining why the change was made. Again this helps in case of a dispute.
  • Owain_MoneysaverOwain_Moneysaver Forumite
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    Is the estate likely to be over £325k?
    If so, Inheritance Tax should be considered. Bequests to charities are exempt. 
    And, if you're not a beneficiary, why would you agree to be an executor? The person who is a beneficiary can do the work. 
    A kind word lasts a minute, a skelped erse is sair for a day.
  • Grumpy_chapGrumpy_chap Forumite
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    If you are the "other person" who now stands to gain, presumably, a far higher share of the estate, then be sure to have nothing to do with the drafting of the will.  
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