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Changing a Will

How to change or revoke a Will.

If person makes a Will and later decides that they want to make changes, they can either:

  • add a codicil to the existing Will
  • make alterations on the existing Will document and get the changes signed and witnessed, or
  • revoke the Will and write a completely new one.

It is important to remember that a person can make as many Wills as they choose. However, all the people named in previous Wills are able to access all old Will documents after a person's death. The only way to avoid this is to destroy copies of the old Wills.

Codicils

If adding a codicil to an existing Will, the Will-maker must make sure that the addition doesn't cause confusion or contradict parts of the original Will.

Some Will-making experts advise against adding a codicil as it is quite simple to inadvertently contradict or confuse the original Will. If the codicil does cause a confusion, the codicil will be deemed invalid.

Alterations in margins of Will

Alterations can simply be made by writing in the margin of the Will. These alterations must be witnessed, dated and signed according to the Act.

See s. 15—Wills Act 1997 (Vic) and Making a valid Will.

Revoking a Will

A Will may be revoked by:

  • a court order
  • making another Will—this should state intention to revoke all previous Wills
  • a written declaration by the Will-maker of the intention to revoke a Will (properly executed)
  • burning, tearing or otherwise destroying the Will by Will-maker (or the agent in the Will-maker's presence and under their direction)
  • writing on the Will—so that court is satisfied of Will maker's intention to revoke
  • marriage—unless it is clear that Will was made in contemplation of marriage—see Marriage, divorce and Wills

Revival of a revoked Will

A Will that has been revoked can be revived by:

  • executing a codicil that shows Will-maker's intention to revive a Will—effective from the date of execution of revival
  • re-execution of original Will by signing before witnesses on revoked Will.

Care must be taken when reviving a revoked Will. If there have been more than one partial revocation of a Will the revival only relates to the last revocation unless it is clear that this was not the intention of the Will-maker.

Wills revoked before 20 July 1998

The Wills Act 1958 applies to Wills revoked before 20 July 1998. Under this Act, a Will was only completely revoked if there was a clause in the new Will that specifically revoked all prior Wills.

See s. 20—Wills Act 1958 (Vic) (link below)

More information

Legislation

There are two Acts that apply in Victoria.

Wills Act 1997 (Vic)

This Act commenced operation on 20 July 1998 and applies to Wills revoked after this date.

  • s. 12—when and how to revoke a Will
  • s. 15—altering a Will

See Wills Act 1997 (Vic).

Wills Act 1958 (Vic)

This Act still applies if the Will was revoked before 20 July 1998.

  • s. 18—making another Will or codicil to revoke a valid Will)
  • s. 19—altering a Will
  • s. 20—revival of a revoked Will

See Wills Act 1958 (Vic).

Updated