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Estate Planning: How to Alter a Valid Will

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2014 | Estate Planning |

While reviewing your estate planning documents, the occasion may arise when a change must be made to a will. The question is, how does one alter a valid will?
When one wants to change their already drafted will, it can be done through a couple of pathways including: adding another aspect to the will, taking out a part of the will, or revoking the whole will. Once the initial will is drafted, it should be periodically amended to keep up with one’s accumulation or depletion of assets and changing relationships, etc. Life is not static, so it only makes sense to go over a will every so often through the stages of life as long as one is of the proper age and sound mind.

An addition or supplement to an already written will is called a codicil. The writing of a codicil has the same rules as does drafting a will: the statutory regulations along with being the proper age and having a sound mind. Codicils are a dated method of adding to a will, but they worked back in the pre-computer days as a result of not being able to quickly copy and paste. One would have to type-write over the whole to make the addition, so a codicil avoided the time consuming work. In rare situations, provisions of a will can be crossed out and other provisions written in their place, but this rarely works as a result of it being hard to prove that the cross outs and additions are the testator’s doing and must be as a result of the testator’s intent. When looking at a revocation of a will, there are three avenues to take to do so: by actually revoking the will, by the law revoking the will, and by a subsequent writing revoking the will. Actually, physically revoking a will can happen through methods of obliterating the document, so that it can no longer be used. The law on the other hand can also revoke a will through avenues such as getting remarried or getting divorced. With the remarriage, it is likely that beneficiaries of certain assets have to be shifted to make room for the new spouse. On the other hand, in a divorce situation, most likely one would not want to give all their assets to their ex-spouse, so some shifting would have to occur there too. The most obvious way to revoke an existing will is to write up a new one with the statutory regulations abided by. If a new, valid will is made, then the other one is void after recording of the new will.

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