Sometimes a will needs to be changed. In such a case, the best choice is usually to consult a lawyer who is well-versed in Estate Planning. But even if you decide not hire a lawyer, there are still certain procedures that any testator (the one who made the will) must undergo in order to make sure that the changes will be accurately reflected in the will. This will help prevent confusion in the future.
If you decide to acquire the services of an attorney, you might want to get the opinions of trusted friends and/or members of the family who have had good experiences with their lawyers.
Another option is to ask your current lawyer to handle the changes that need to be made. It’s quite possible that the lawyer already has the needed expertise. If not, you can ask for a recommendation. A recommendation from a reliable lawyer can usually be trusted. You can also explore websites and look for lawyers using search engines, online forums, and email mailing lists. Offline sources are useful as well; yellow pages do contain good leads. Be sure to qualify all prospective lawyers over the phone.
Once you have found a lawyer to work with you, explain in as much detail as you can all the changes that you want to implement in the will. Try to think of all the ways by which your will might be misinterpreted. Work with your lawyer to make sure that the Will is worded in the most explicit way possible.
If the changes are complex, your lawyer will probably recommend that you create a completely new Will. However, if the changes are fairly minor, your lawyer might recommend that you make a Codicil. This document simply allows you to amend the current Will so that you won’t have to make a new one.
To change your will without hiring a lawyer, the first thing you need to do is write your very own codicil. Make all the changes that you want to make. Aside from making sure that your spelling and grammar are impeccable, you should also make sure to use clear and unambiguous language. The last thing you want is for your will to be open to multiple interpretations.
Depending on your state, you may need witnesses. If you need witnesses, get them. They need to be present when you date and sign the new document. On choosing witnesses: you are not allowed to choose any of the beneficiaries. These witnesses also need to be very reliable and trustworthy.
Finally, you also need the witnesses to date and sign the new document.
They should also include their contact information as well as their addresses. This is very important; the Probate Court needs to be able to find the witnesses when you pass away. Otherwise, their signatures will
not be recognized by the court. This means that the Codicil or the Will could be voided. This results in the state taking over the distribution of your assets.