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Are you able to make changes to an existing will?

On Behalf of | Nov 14, 2018 | Estate Planning And Probate

Have you been experiencing several changes in your life recently and are wondering how you can incorporate these changes in an established will? If you would like to change your will, you should be happy to know it is not hard to do but it does require certain steps to be taken. One thing you will need to decide on is if you want to make changes to your existing will or start over brand new. 

Is it time for a change?

If you were responsible enough to create a will early in life, the chances of it properly reflecting your final wishes many years down the line are slim. Therefore, you need to periodically update and do a review of the contents of your will. Here are times when you should typically make a change or update a will:

  • A person you named in your will has died
  • Your children give you grandchildren or you have more children
  • You get married or divorced

You should also make changes to your will if you want to change the name of the executor or trustee, or if you want to change the size of a gift you previously documented in the will. If the changes you are making to your will have major changes, it may be better to just create an entirely new will. You will need to state that you are revoking an old will prior to making the new will enforceable.

Using a codicil

What is a codicil? It is a legal document that will act as an amendment to a will you already have established. This allows you to make a change to your will without needing to rewrite the entire document. Using a codicil is useful when you are only making small changes to your will.

There are rules for making your codicil valid. Besides the document needing to be witnessed in the same way as your original will, the codicil must be:

  • Prepared in writing and signed by you, the testator
  • Witnessed by two people who are present when you sign, and you must witness them sign the document

It is unrealistic to believe that the wishes you originally included in your first will can stay valid for the rest of your life. You should not only routinely review your will but also update it when major milestones take place in your life.