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Ask The Legal Expert - I Want to Leave Money To Charity. Should I Update My Will?

View profile for Sean Boucher
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I made a Will some years ago, bequeathing my estate to my daughter. However, in recent years I have received a lot of support from a small, local charity and I would like to leave a healthy sum to them. Must I go through the Will-making process again?

It is good to hear you have made a Will. Around 60 per cent of people pass away without having a proper Will in place and this can cause unnecessary hardship for those they leave behind. A recent study revealed that Welsh charities are becoming more reliant on income from legacies, with smaller charities having an increasing share of the legacy market. Charities in Wales are said to receive almost £20 million annually from gifts left in Wills, yielding 25 per cent of their total voluntary income through legacies.

We recommend to our clients that they review their Will every three years, in order to keep them relevant, and any major changes in your circumstances should prompt you to do this too. So, for example, if you were to divorce, welcome a new child into the family, or restructure your business, or if an intended beneficiary dies – these could all impact your Will. Your Will is automatically revoked if you marry or remarry.

Some small amends, like changing an executor or adding a beneficiary, will require simply adding a codicil to your existing Will. This should be written on a separate piece of paper, not added as notes to your Will document, and it must be signed and witnessed in the same way as a Will. There is no legal limit to the number of codicils you make, but they should only be used to make simple changes. Even if you feel a codicil will suffice, it is sensible to talk through your proposed changes with a legal professional before you go ahead with this.

I am often asked whether Wills can be challenged after someone dies, and the short answer is ‘yes’. However, the Inheritance Act 1975 which deals with challenges to Wills is complex, and if any disputes among beneficiaries or interested parties arise, the Court’s overriding interest will be in adhering to the law rather than the stated wishes of a Will-maker. This is a very difficult area, and proper legal advice should be sought at the earliest opportunity as there are strict time limits imposed.

JCP’s Lifetime Planning team is always on hand for tailored and professional legal support. Contact Sean on or call 01267 248986.

For further advice, please contact our specialist Lifetime Planning Solicitors in:

  • Swansea: 01792 773773
  • Cardiff: 02920 225472
  • Carmarthen: 01267 234022
  • Caerphilly: 02920 860628
  • Cowbridge: 01446 771742
  • Haverfordwest: 01437 764723
  • Fishguard: 01348 873671

This question is based on a hypothetical situation.