Making Changes to Your Will
Periodically, it’s important to review your estate plan, and make the necessary adjustments to ensure that your plan keeps pace with developments in your life and with legal developments. So, how do you go about making changes to your Will? The answer is that it depends on the types of changes you want to make. If you need to make a minor change, like adding a specific bequest or updating the last name of a beneficiary who’s gotten married, then you may want to use a Codicil. A Codicil is a legal document that changes a specific provision of a Will, while leaving all of the other provisions exactly as they originally were. A Codicil needs to be signed and witnessed with the same formality as your original Will, so you’ll need to get the help of your estate planning attorney.
On the other hand, if you need to make a big change to your Will, such as disinheriting one of your beneficiaries; or if you need to make several small changes, you’ll likely want to have your estate planning attorney draw up a new Will for you to sign. This will make it easier for your executor to follow your intentions when the time comes to probate your Will and distribute your assets. The easier your Will is to read and follow, the less likely a Will contest becomes, saving time and money during the probate process. There is no hard and fast legal rule that dictates when a Codicil should be used as opposed to when a new Will should be made. If there’s any doubt, the best thing to do is to check with a qualified estate planning attorney.
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