Circumstances are always changing and it is important to understand how you can make amends and updates to your will. There are many circumstances in which changes must be made to a will including, but not limited to:
- Changing the heirs of a will
- Getting married or divorced
- Redistribute assets
- Changing or adding an alternative executor
- Changing or adding beneficiaries to a will
- Change in ownership of property listen in the will
• Naming a different guardian or removing the guardian when your child is no longer a minor.
Amending a Will
There may be a time in your life when you realize that the will you previously wrote does not meet your needs anymore. If your will is not changed to meet your current situation, the will may not be valid in court.
One way of making a change to a will it is to make a codicil, which is an amendment to your will. This is an easy way to make small changes to a will. Writing a codicil allows you to alter certain parts of the will that you wish to change and allow you to update your will to your current situation. This document is separate from the will, and has the ability to add, remove, or make changes to the will without revoking it entirely.
A codicil will indicate that you have updated your will and list all of your new arrangements. The document is presented along with the will in probate court and will notify the court of your changes. The process of writing a codicil is similar to the process to writing a will. It is required that the codicil be in writing and signed by the writer of the will, also known as the testator. Furthermore, the testator must have been mentally sound when writing the codicil and there must be two witnesses present during the signing.
Creating a New Will
Sometimes, the changes in one's situation are so drastic that it may be more convenient to revoke the old will and write a completely new one. It may be necessary especially if you are making several changes, or if you already have more than one codicil. A new will may be a better option, as it will reduce confusion while in probate. A codicil could be potentially misinterpreted by the probate court, so it may be safer to draft a brand new will.
A will can be revoked simply by destroying, defacing, burning, or ripping it. It is best not to destroy the will using these methods because there may be other hard copies of the will that still exist. Instead, a person should amend a will or to write a new one before doing so to ensure that his or her assets will be protected after death.
Since the requirements of a codicil are similar to that of a will, many opt to write an entirely new will. The codicil must address whether it replaces parts of the first will, negates a certain clause, or simply an addition to the will. There is virtually no advantage to a codicil, and it may cause confusion. Any confusion in probate court will increase the amount of time it takes your beneficiaries receive your assets.
Reviewing your will every few years will allow you to decide if you feel the need to make amendments. If your circumstances change, it may be in your best interest to create a codicil, or a new will altogether.