How To Change a Last Will

A Last Will is a document which is executed in the event of your death. If changes need to be made, it's important to know the proper steps for amending your Will.

There are two ways to change a Last Will. The first is with a lawyer present and the other is without a lawyer but in the presence of witnesses.

If you want to do this with a lawyer, make sure you have a detailed list of the changes you want to make. If these changes are minor, you will need to create a codicil, which is a legal document is added to the original Will so an entirely new Will does not have to be made. Think of it like making amendments to the constitution without starting from scratch.

Once it is finished, make sure that this looks like the original with reference pointed to the original date of the Will.

In most states, you are required to have a witness present.  It is best to get someone who has no personal interest whatsoever with regards to the contents of the Will. Once complete, the Will and codicil are handed over to your lawyer for safekeeping and opened only after your death.

For people who do not want to use a lawyer, they can easily write up their own codicil and then attach this to the original Will. If you do not use a lawyer, be sure to check your language thoroughly so no one can question the contents of the Will after you die. The codicil should also be signed by witnesses as required by the state where you currently reside.

The witnesses present should sign their names, write the date, and include their contact number and address. This will make it easy to get in touch with them when you die, otherwise a probate court may render the codicil null and void. In that case, the probate court will also be the one to decide who will get whatever estate you have left behind.

Once the codicil is complete, it is always a good idea to have a lawyer review it to make sure that it conforms to your state's laws. If everything is acceptable, you can then store it in a secure place like a safety deposit box as permitted by law. If this is not feasible, have it stored at your county courthouse so it will be easy to retrieve after your death.

Making changes to your Last Will doesn't have to be difficult as long as you conform to the laws of your state.


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