5 of the Most Common Mistakes in Wills

Creating your Will comes with many potential mistakes and pitfalls. The laws surrounding Wills and probate are complex, and these common mistakes can have major consequences for your loved ones in the future.

1.   Having the Wrong Witnesses

Although you may know that all Wills need two witnesses to be valid, you may not know that your witnesses are not allowed to benefit from your Will. Therefore, if you ask your partner or a child who is named in your Will to witness it when it is written, you stand the chance of accidentally disinheriting them.

When choosing your witnesses, they must be over 18, of sound mind, able to see, and not a beneficiary in your Will. Your executor, however, can be a witness, as long as they are not benefitting from the Will in some way.

In the event that Wills are improperly witnessed, they could be contested or invalidated. This means that your wishes may be overlooked. Ensuring that you have the right witnesses can make the probate process run much smoother for your loved ones. It will also ensure that you can relax knowing that your wishes are secure and will be carried out.

2.   Making Changes After Your Will Has Been Signed

Although it is possible to change the wishes in your Will after it has been signed, it isn’t as simple as amending the original document. Some people may add a note at the end and sign it, thinking that their new wishes will override their original Will, but this is not the case.

An official alteration to a Will is called a codicil, which must be signed and witnessed in the same way as a Will. You can add as many codicils as you like to a Will, but it is better to create a brand new Will for any significant changes to avoid any confusion and potential mistakes.

If you write a new Will rather than amending it with codicils, clearly state that the new Will revokes all other Wills you have written in the past, and consider destroying the old copies to prevent any confusion.

3.   Not Including All Your Assets

When considering what they will leave to their loved ones, many people think about their house, car, and money. However, many people leave out some of the assets that their loved ones want, such as photo albums and collectable items.

You can also leave digital assets in your Will, including digital photos and social media accounts, to allow your loved ones to access more pictures or carry on your digital legacy. Leaving your digital assets behind can also give your executors more information to help the probate process run more smoothly.

When assessing your assets, ensure that you take a thorough inventory of everything you own and want to leave to your loved ones. Factor in any outstanding mortgage payments or loans you may have, as this may affect how much you leave to your beneficiaries.

4.   Accidentally Excluding People

A common mistake that people make when writing their Will is accidentally excluding people they want to include. This can often happen with step-children. Even if you consider them your own and want to include them, just referencing your children will only include your biological children.

Be as specific as possible when writing your Will and naming your beneficiaries to avoid exclusions like this. Many people also make the mistake of assuming their partners inherit half of their Estate, even when they are unmarried. This is not the case – your partner only inherits automatically when you are married and must be named in your Will if not.

However, do not assume that everything will pass to your partner if you pass away without a Will, even if you are married! A Will gives you the power to make your own decisions and plan where your assets will go. Even if you want your partner to inherit everything, a Will will ensure that this is a more straightforward process.

If you do want to exclude someone, like a child or a dependent purposely, there must be a reason for doing so. If you do not include a reason, they could contest your decision and claim a part of your Estate, even when you did not want them to.

5.   Not Updating Your Will

Some people assume that they are set for life once they have a Will. However, there are several cases in which your Will must be updated, such as:

  • Marriage – when you marry, any Will you have written before is automatically revoked in England and Wales. Update your Will to avoid your Estate being distributed against your wishes.
  • Divorce – although marriage revokes your Will, divorce does not. If you divorce, be sure to check your Will to assess if your wishes have stayed the same or similar.
  • Death of a beneficiary or executor – when a beneficiary or executor passes away, update your Will with who your assets should pass to and who should execute your Estate.

There are many more reasons to update your will, so regularly review it to check that your wishes remain the same. Forgetting to update your Will may exclude some people who you wish to benefit or have people benefit who you want to exclude.

Even if you feel your Will does not need updating, reviewing it every five years helps keep it accurate and gives you better peace of mind.


These five common mistakes in Wills can have severe and long-lasting consequences for your loved ones in the future. To avoid them, be sure to review your Will every five years and check that it has been properly witnessed so that it is valid.

Contact The Planning Bee today for professional Will writing services catering to your needs. Whether you want to amend your Will, create a new one entirely, or simply have questions about Estate planning, our expert paralegals are here to help. Get in touch for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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