Voluntary revocation of Wills

The following Wills & Probate practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Voluntary revocation of Wills
  • Modes of voluntary revocation
  • Intention to revoke
  • Revocation by another Will or codicil
  • Revocation by an express clause
  • Revocation by implication
  • Time of revocation
  • Revocation by written instrument
  • Revocation by destruction
  • Destruction with intention to revoke
  • More...

Voluntary revocation of Wills

With voluntary revocation of a Will, the question of whether the Will has been effectively revoked is governed by the intention of the testator. It is largely, therefore, a question of fact whether revocation has taken place. This makes it difficult to categorise the case law relating to voluntary revocation, but some of the principles which can be drawn out from the cases are set out below.

Involuntary revocation is confined to revocation by subsequent marriage (or certain provisions which apply on dissolution of a marriage or civil partnership). For further guidance on involuntary revocation, see Practice Note: Marriage or civil partnership revocation of Wills.

Modes of voluntary revocation

A Will is regarded by the law as revocable by the testator until their death. A testator may not revoke their Will in any manner and the Wills Act 1837 (WA 1837), section 20 sets out the permitted methods, namely:

  1. by a later Will or codicil duly executed

  2. by some writing declaring an intention to revoke the Will and duly executed as a Will

  3. by burning, tearing or otherwise destroying the Will by the testator or someone in their presence and by their direction, with the intention of revoking the same

Intention to revoke

WA 1837, s 20 requires the testator to intend to revoke the Will. Consequently, revocation is not proved by, for example:

  1. mere accidental

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