As you age, your priorities or circumstances often change and you decide to revise some provisions of your will. One way to add a page to your will would be to revoke the current will and write a completely new will. However, this can be inconvenient and costly, -- and it might not be necessary. You can often include additional property or beneficiaries in your will by adding an amendment called a codicil. Another option is to add a personal property memorandum, which is used to dispose of tangible personal property that is not specifically disposed of in the will.
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Draft an amendment using the same formal language used in your original will. Label the amendment as a codicil and give it a number in case you have more than one, such as “First Codicil to Last Will & Testament of Mary Ellen Jones.”
Include the property or beneficiary you are adding. If you are changing a provision of your will, refer to the article, item or paragraph where the old information is listed in the will and state that you are revoking that provision.
Sign and date the codicil with the same formality used to sign the original will, according to state laws. Some states require two witnesses and a notary; some require more formal language called a probate. Your witnesses should not be relatives or beneficiaries.
Keep the codicil with your will at all times. If the will is registered in your state, register the codicil with it.
Draft a tangible personal property memorandum to list items and your intended recipients. Many people use this device to designate bequests when drafting a will. A memorandum should be referenced in your will to be valid, but most executors will try to follow your wishes if you add one later.
List items and beneficiaries on your personal property memorandum. For example, you might state, "I give my sailboat to my nephew Ed Jones," and "I give my French provincial silver service to my daughter Sally Smith." Describe the items with enough detail that the executor of your will can understand your intent.
Sign and date the memorandum at the bottom of the page. Most will memorandums are not witnessed because they are created so that you can easily change bequests.
Strike through an item and label it “revoked,” then add another item or beneficiary to change the memorandum. Initial and date the revocations and additions.
Keep the memorandum with your original will or with a copy of your will if your state registers wills prior to death.
Tips & Warnings
- You can find copies of most will forms and store a digital copy of your will on online document preparation sites like LegalZoom.
- If you add a tangible personal property memorandum after writing your will without making reference to it in the original will, it might not be held up by the court if challenged.
References & Resources
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