Why you Should Update Your Will After Diagnosis of a Cognitive Illness

Ruth Wijay
Ruth Wijay
Head of Wills, Probate & Trusts

Your Will is potentially one of the most important documents that you will ever have to write. They are often drafted and then forgotten about, despite important things always changing in your day-to-day life.

Although it is not something we want to think about, in the case of the unexpected, it is important that we keep our Wills up to date. In some cases, this is vital, especially if you or a loved one is diagnosed with an illness that effects cognitive abilities. Illnesses such as dementia, which effect communication and memory, often come with no warning. Here is why you should update your Will when diagnosed with a cognitive illness.


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What is Cognitive Illness and What are the Symptoms?


Cognitive illness is a neurological disorder which affects mental health. Most commonly, it effects communication (speech, reading, writing) and memory. During old age, diagnosis of cognitive illness is most common. Dementia, for example, affects around 20,000 people in the UK every year. Although it is believed that most cognitive illnesses affect a person’s intelligence or general awareness, this is not the case. It can be incredibly difficult and heart-breaking when a family member or loved one is diagnosed with a cognitive illness, and it can make the future seem uncertain and scary.


Bruce Willis and his Diagnosis of Aphasia


Bruce Willis, known best for his acting roles in Die Hard, was recently diagnosed with aphasia, a rare cognitive illness which mainly affects a person’s speech. The news was shared by his ex-wife, who stated he was to retire from acting due to his health. Thankfully, Bruce Willis has family to support him during this difficult time, and the outpour of support from fans has been amazing. The story has put cognitive illness into perspective, showing it can happen to anyone at any time.


Why Does This Mean you Should Update Your Will?


When you or a loved one are diagnosed with a cognitive illness, it is often important to think about the future. There will come a point where certain things will be very difficult to do, including changing or updating a Will; if the illness is spreading or becoming worse, it might be worth doing so before it is not possible. Since the last draft of your Will, there may have been changes which are necessary to make.


How do I Keep my Will up to Date?


Updating a Will is very simple, all you need to do is get in touch with one of our Wills and Trust Solicitors. They will either advise you to create a codicil – a supplementary document which aims to make amends to an existing Will. Or, they will suggest you create a new Will, depending on what and how much has changed.

Ensuring that a Will is updated before you are unable to make any changes is extremely important and can put both yourself and your family at ease. For more information on aphasia, visit the NHS website.

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