Changing a Will in Scotland
In Scotland, getting married doesn’t automatically revoke your existing will like it does in England. However, under Scottish law your spouse is allowed to make a claim against your estate up to half of its value after your death.
If you have children after making a will and have not made any mention of them, the will is considered void. In such a situation you must make a new will, taking your new children into account.
In Scotland, divorce doesn’t bar your ex-spouse from inheriting. To stop your spouse from benefiting if you subsequently divorce, add the phrase ‘on condition that we are still married at the time of my death’ to any gift made out to your spouse.
You may think that by leaving everything to your spouse all will be taken care of. But your spouse may have different priorities to you. If you want to be absolutely sure that your children have enough money for further education or to travel the world, make a specific provision for them.
Also bear in mind the unfortunate scenario that you may die together with your spouse. You may want to amend your will to appoint a guardian if you haven’t already done so. You can alter your will to appoint a guardian by adding the codicil.
Your children growing up should be prompt a review of your will. Any guardianship or trusts that you set up when your children were little, may no longer be needed. Your children might have started to strike out on their own and you may want to amend your will to ensure your estate helps them get on the property ladder or undertake career-improving education (You can change a trust into a gift through codicil, but it’s best to hire a solicitor to help you with this).
On the reverse side, if you for whatever do not trust your child with any substantial gifts due to young age etc. you may want to raise the age on which your child inherits your gift. You can make this change through a codicil in your will.
You may also want consider any tax implications when amending your will due to having kids. The early transfer of property and giving gifts of cash, such as through a trust to a child, can help reduce the eventual inheritance tax (IHT) bill on your estate.
Correcting Mistakes In An Unsigned Will
Remember that you can make changes to your will at any point, prior to it being signed and witnessed. After signing, you must tread very carefully or else changes you make will not be recognised by the court.
Before signing and having your will witnessed, get someone to read it to check for clarity. A friend or family member with experience of writing their own will can tell you if what you’ve written makes sense to them. You can ask your executors to read through the will; after all, it’s up to them to deal with your estate after you’ve gone. You can also use a solicitor to check that your will is correct but they charge for this service.
If you made mistakes and have to make corrections, be careful how you go about it:
Use the same colour pen that you used to write your will to make any alterations, otherwise your executor may deem that the changes were added by another person and so ignore them
If the alterations are considerable, you might want to start again from scratch – if you start crossing out huge swathes of your will it can become very messy and hard to understand. What’s more, your executor may decide someone else made the changes
If you make any obvious changes to your will document, then sign the changes and have your witnesses sign it too
If your unsigned will is on a computer simply replace unwanted passages with the ones you want. Drawing up your will on the computer makes it easy to edit later on
Changing A Beneficiary
If you haven’t named alternative beneficiaries in your will, any cash left to someone who has died becomes part of your residuary estate and is divided up amongst all the living beneficiaries of your residual estate. The residue of your estate is often worth a lot of money, so it’s a good idea to gift it to a beneficiary or beneficiaries.
If you bequeathed an item such as a painting or other family heirloom to a beneficiary who has since died, the gift forms part of the residuary estate. The executor may order that the item is sold and the proceeds divided amongst the living beneficiaries. If the item is something that you are keen to keep with the family, then make an amendment after the death of the beneficiary leaving it to a new beneficiary. This can be added as a codicil.
Make life easier for yourself: name an alternative beneficiary when you write your will in case your first choice dies before you. Naming an alternative should cut down on the number of times you have to change your will.