Creating a will is an involved process that requires an individual to make several decisions all at once: who to include as a beneficiary, whether to create a trust, how to divide the property among beneficiaries, and how to protect assets and resolve debts. Sometimes after a will is made, a testator may change his or her mind and want to modify the will. Perhaps he or she had a falling out with a family member, is involved in a new relationship, or had an unexpected death in the family. Fortunately, it is possible to modify your will so that it reflects your current wishes without having to completely redraft the will.
The Importance of Codicils
Making modifications to your will is actually a fairly simple process. You must draft a codicil, which is an amendment to your will. In the codicil, you must specify all changes that you wish to make, including adding or removing beneficiaries or even changing the majority of your will. You can add as many codicils as you need to as your wishes change over time. As long as the most recent codicil is legally valid, this version of the will is the one that will be probated.
Producing A Valid Codicil
When modifying your will, it is important to ensure that your codicil meets the legal specifications of your state. Otherwise, the codicil is not valid and will not be admitted into court, and it will be too late for you to amend the problem. To help you with the modification, consider consulting with a probate lawyer. A probate attorney can provide you with sound legal advice and help you meet all of the necessary legal requirements to have your codicil admitted for probate.
State laws vary, but for a codicil to be valid, two witnesses and a notary are required. You and your two disinterested witnesses must sign your will and codicil. Your lawyer will also attach an affidavit with the second round of signatures from you and your two witnesses. A notary will then provide his or her signature and verification. Once all of the necessary signatures have been gathered, the authentication of your codicil is complete. Following this procedure and other laws related to wills and probate will help to ensure that your will is probated according to your latest wishes.
When you need to change your will, you need some guidance to get this done correctly. Here are some instructions on how you can alter your will or revoke it but they must be followed carefully if you decide to change stipulations in your will. If you fail to follow them or try to change the will by marking things out or adding things to it, it could void swath portions of your document. It could also null and void your will entirely. The instructions are not hard to follow but they are important to follow if you want your will to stay valid in a court of law.
Two Methods To Revoking Your Will:
1.) Signing an entirely new will null and void any other wills.
2.) Destroying a will in your possession, if you truly wish to revoke the will.
You should never try and change any part of your will by any other way. For instance, do not try and add provisions to the side of the will, either by writing it in or typing it in. Never cross-out portions of the will. These methods are not suitable to will alteration and may be subject to a court battle should someone question its validity.
The following six things are standard clauses when it comes to changing your will and adding in information. Make sure to include changes where it’s indicated on the form. Be sure to type up your will the same way as you did the original one by following the instructions below:
1.) Make a copy of the addition form. Use this new copy as a worksheet and fill in the information in the right areas for every chosen clause. In the main clause, you’ll need to use one or more of the following phrases. If you want to change a certain sentence, you need to revoke the original sentence and add your new sentence in. If you want to add new material to it or revoke a certain part, be sure you have one of the following phrases in the will:
“In this will, I revoke the following sentence/phrase.”
“In this will, I want to add in the following sentence/phrase.”
2.) On the photocopy worksheet edition, mark out any extra material that’s not going to become a part of the will. Read of it entirely to make sure it’s what you really want.
3.) Once you’ve made all the changes you want, be sure to type it out again, using 8 1/2 x 11″ typing paper.
4.) Once the typing is complete, fill in the total page amount in the signature paragraph. Don’t sign it yet or fill in the date where it says so.
5.) You’ll need to read it again carefully to ensure there are no mistakes. If you find any, you’ll need to retype that one page. Don’t use type-correcting fluid, tape or erasures of any type. Also, don’t mark out words and don’t add anything using pen or pencil.
6.) Once your will is perfect, staple the pages together in the upper-left hand corner. Now your document is prepared to sign. Make sure to follow the instructions on how to sign your will properly or it could become null and void. Be sure to include the statement, when signing.
Whenever a significant life event occurs you should consider modifying your Will, so following a birth, a death, a divorce, a marriage or large change in your financial situation. When you get married a previous Will is automatically rendered void. However, when you get a divorce this does not mean they cease to be a beneficiary of your Will, you will have to actively remove your ex-partner from the Will should you feel you need to. It should also be noted it is important to modify your Will following a birth as even if your other children are all beneficiaries of the Will your newborn will not be added to the Will automatically. You should contact a solicitor if you need to make a change to your Will, be this be a total redraft or an amendment via codicil.
Let the professionals at The Law Offices of Bj Richardson help you with your specific needs. We don’t handle every aspect of tax law, however, we can direct you to a professional that can handle any area of tax law that we don’t handle.