How to Change a Will While Dying

by A.L. Kennedy
You may change your will while dying, if necessary.

You may change your will while dying, if necessary.

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Circumstances may inspire you to change your will in the last moments of your life. The laws of most states offer one or more ways to change your will while dying. It is best, however, to make any changes to your will as soon as possible, rather than waiting for the last moment, as you may not be able to control the circumstances of your death or your ability to change your will at that time.

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Step 1

Assemble witnesses. You will need at least two witnesses in most states -- three in Vermont. The witnesses should be at least 18 years old and have the mental capacity to understand what you are doing. Try to get witnesses who do not have an interest in what happens to your estate. For instance, ask a nurse to witness your will change instead of a spouse or adult child.

Step 2

Tell your witnesses that you would like to change your will. If you live in a state that recognizes nuncupative, or oral, wills, you may be able simply to tell your witnesses what changes you would like to make. In these states, merely stating the words is enough. Your witnesses have the responsibility to write down your changes after you have passed. In states that do not recognize nuncupative wills, you must nevertheless inform your witnesses that you are changing your will so they know what they are witnessing.

Step 3

Write down the changes you wish to make on your will, if your state will not accept a nuncupative will or will change. If you cannot write, you may direct one of your witnesses to write down your spoken will changes on your behalf. Changes should be written on a separate sheet of paper from your original will. You do not have to have your original will present to change it while you are dying, but you may wish to have a copy, if possible, so that you or your witnesses can refer to it.

Step 4

Sign the written changes, if you are making written changes. If you cannot sign, direct another adult of sound mind to sign your name on your behalf. Make sure this person understands that you know you have changed your will, as the probate court is likely to ask whether you were of sound mind when you made your changes. Have at least two witnesses sign the written changes as well. Even if your state recognizes nuncupative wills, you may wish to have the changes written down, signed and witnessed.