Revocation of a Will - Wills Act 1837
Updated: Mar 15
How do you revoke a Will?
A Will is revoked by destruction, by the burning, tearing or otherwise destroying of the Will by the testator, or by some other person in his presence by his direction with the testator having the intention of revoking it.
In the estate of Stoker – a case heard in California in 2011 - Mr Stoker took his original Will, urinated on it and then burned it. The court decided “we hesitate to speculate how he accomplished the second act after the first. In any event, the decedent’s actions led to the compelling conclusion he intended to revoke his Will”.
A Will can also be revoked by a written declaration executed in the same manner as writing a Will.
Does a new Will revoke a previous one?
Executing a new Will does not automatically revoke a previous Will. It is only revoked by a subsequent Will to the extent that the later Will is inconsistent with the earlier Will. Otherwise, it might be considered to simply be a codicil to the earlier Will. It is therefore good practice when writing a new Will to include an expressly written revocation clause. You can read more about it in the Wills Act 1963.
Having Wills in multiple jurisdictions
Especially for people living in, and owning property outside of England and Wales, it is important that both the English Will and, for example, the Cypriot Will do not revoke the other. Any revocation clause should be carefully limited to the property in question in that jurisdiction as a broad revocation would revoke all Wills.
A Will is revoked by marriage or the formation of a civil partnership unless it appears from the Will that it was made in expectation of that marriage or civil partnership and is not to be revoked by it. It is not possible to make a Will in expectation of marrying with a yet unidentified person.
In 1953 a Will leaving everything “unto my fiancée Maida Edith Beck” was held to be in contemplation of marriage.
A person requires to have mental capacity to revoke his Will.
For further information on this and other matters relating to Wills, Lasting Power of Attorney and funeral plans, please contact us using the form below, or call us on 26 600780.