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Wills & Probate Resources
How To Make Changes And Update My Will
How do you make changes to your will? How do you update it? How do you revoke a will? The answer depends on the type of will you have.
Types of Wills
There are two main kinds of wills: a general will and a holographic will.
A general will is one that is prepared by another party, usually an attorney, for you. It is normally typewritten. General wills are a very common form. A holographic will is one you prepare for yourself as testator and sign, entirely in your own handwriting.
Changes and Updates to General Wills
A written codicil is the way to accomplish changes to a general will. The codicil must meet five basic requirements (same as those for a general will) in order to be considered legally binding and valid:
- Testator must have the capacity (mental) to make the codicil;
- Codicil must be written;
- Codicil must be witnessed by third parties;
- Codicil must be signed by the testator and witnesses; and
- Codicil cannot contain any erasures, marks, corrections or interlineations after it has been signed by the witnesses (just as is the case with a will).
If any writings are added to the will or codicil after it has been witnessed and signed by the witnesses, then the will or codicil becomes legally invalid or null and void.
Revocations of General Wills
Revocation of a general will can occur in a few different manners:
- Whenever a subsequent will is prepared, then the prior will is automatically revoked by operation of law.
- A will may also be revoked by a revocation in writing. That written revocation has to say that the prior will is no longer valid. A written revocation has to be executed in the same manner as a will in order to be legally binding.
- A will can also be revoked by destroying it. There must be a concurrent intent to revoke the will, when it is destroyed. Such an intention to revoke a will means that the testator has consciously and purposefully destroyed the will.
Significantly, if the testator does not make a new will to replace the prior will, trusts and estates law presumes that the testator desires to have the prior will become effective, rather than have no will in place at all.