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Contents of a will

In addition to those provisions in a will that deal with the appointment of executors and guardians (see 'Appointing executors and guardians'), or that specify who is to inherit what property (see 'Gifts and beneficiaries'), a will typically includes the provisions detailed below.

The opening clause

In all wills it is traditional to have an opening clause that identifies the testator (the person making the will), their full name and address, as well as any other names by which they have been known. This makes it easier to identify the person who made the will should any problems arise. The opening clause usually includes the current address of the testator.

The opening clause further states that the will is 'in order to settle the succession to the testator's means and estate' and that helps to demonstrate that the testator intends the document to be a will.

The revocation clause

The revocation clause cancels any other wills made previously and usually instructs their destruction. It is important to express the fact that the current will replaces all previous wills and testamentary dispositions (i.e. documents that are wills or alter existing wills (e.g. codicils) or are part of existing wills or qualify as informal writings) that were prepared and signed by the testator as it makes the testator's intention absolutely clear.

If you have a foreign will to deal with any foreign assets, care should be taken not to revoke any such will if this is not your intention.

If you make a will, which contains a clause revoking an earlier will and you later also revoke the later will, the earlier will does not revive unless you take steps to revive it, e.g. by re-executing the earlier will or making a new will in the same terms as the earlier will.

Funeral instructions

The testator may also wish to give specific instructions with regard to burial. If it is the testator's wish, for example, to be cremated, this may be expressed. See further 'Issues to consider'.

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