What is a Revocation Clause and what does it do?

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The revocation clause in your will cancels all previous wills that you have made.

A well drafted will is often a simple, short document, that may on the face of it appear it is something that anyone could have drafted.  Indeed, as a lawyer who has been a strong advocate of ‘Plain English’ in law (to make life easy for the consumer), I have long since been a vocal supporter of short, simple, easy to understand wills.

But, the uninitiated eye may miss something very simple, and in doing so, create a whole lot of trouble and cost undoing their mistake after they day.  One such simple thing that it is easy to miss is a revocation clause.  Here we look at what it does, what it looks like, and why it is so important.

What is a Revocation Clause?

A revocation clause cancels your last will (the previous one you made).  By definition therefore it makes your will ‘my last will and testament – a phrase you may be familiar with.

Where does a Revocation Clause appear in my Will?

The revocation clause generally appears at the very start of your will.

Why does my Will need a Revocation Clause?

When Probate is granted (to your executors after you die), Probate must be issued against your ‘last will and testament’.  It is therefore essential that any new will expressly cancels a previous one (with a notable exception – see below).  And, hence the essential nature of a revocation clause!

What happens if my Will does not include a Revocation Clause?

If your will does not cancel all previous wills, it may result in the Probate Registry being unable to issue Probate against your will after you die.  This is a great example of why it is a good idea to use an expert wills solicitor when preparing your will.

When should a Will not include a Revocation Clause?

The answer to that is (sort of) never,  but there is one slight exception/variation.  If you have assets in more than one legal jurisdiction, it is likely that you may need more than one will – ie one in each legal jurisdiction within which you hold assets.

In those circumstances, what needs to happen is that your ‘UK will’ makes it clear that any revocation is only cancelling your UK Will, and not any other wills elsewhere in the world!  Strictly speaking, no will is a UK will as the will here applies to England & Wales (not the UK as a whole).

Ensuring you ‘revoke’ all previous wills is essential.

How will my Revocation Clause differ if I also have a ‘foreign will’?

If you have a will elsewhere other than England & Wales, then that will (in England & Wales) is likely to restrict both its validity and therefore revocation to England & Wales only.  This is rather than it saying it revokes ‘all other wills’.

What does a Revocation Clause in a Will look like?

The revocation clause in your will usually appears in the opening where you also declare your full names and addresses.  For a standard will, it will look something like:-

THIS WILL dated 2/2/2022 is made by me JOE BLOGGS of 1 Accacia Avenue Townend AB1 2CD and I REVOKE all earlier wills

If you have assets abroad it will have additional wording saying it is restricted to England & Wales and only revokes wills here.

How can my Executors put right a Will that does not include a Revocation Clause?

Firstly, you can make sure that you get your will right during your lifetime (sorry for stating the down right obvious)!  Failing that, they will have to prove to the Probate Registry that the will they put in to obtain probate is definitely your last will and testament and that you had intended to expressly cancel any other wills you made.  There are various ways this can be done (beyond the scope of this article).

What if my Executors can not prove I Revoked earlier Wills after I die?

If your will is rejected by the Probate Registry (for this or other reasons) then you will be deemed to have dies ‘intestate’ (without a will).

What if I am deemed to have died Intestate?

If you are deemed to have died without a will then the law decides who gets your money, not you!  This is why it is so important to not only make a will, but ensure that it is correct and will not be rejected when you die.

Who can help me with Revocation Clauses?

If you have any questions on this subject then please reach out to our expert team of wills solicitors who will be delighted to help.  We can be contacted at pcd@qlaw.co.uk or you can call us on 03300 020 365.

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