How Do I Change a Last Will & Testament?

By A.L. Kennedy

You might decide to change your will for several reasons, including changes in the laws governing your will and changes in your family, such as a marriage, birth or divorce. Most states recognize at least two different ways to change a will: by using a codicil or by making a new will, according to FindLaw. To prevent confusion, it is best to consult an attorney whenever you change your last will and testament.

You might decide to change your will for several reasons, including changes in the laws governing your will and changes in your family, such as a marriage, birth or divorce. Most states recognize at least two different ways to change a will: by using a codicil or by making a new will, according to FindLaw. To prevent confusion, it is best to consult an attorney whenever you change your last will and testament.

How to Change Your Last Will and Testament

Step 1

List the reasons you want or need to change your will. Common reasons for changing a will include getting married or divorced, the birth or death of a child, the acquisition or disposal of large assets like a house, and the wish to change the persons who will receive your property when you die, according to FindLaw. Knowing what changes need to be made will help you decide how to go about changing your will.

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Step 2

Choose whether to change your will using a codicil or by writing a new will. A codicil is an amendment to your current will. Codicils are usually used for small changes like adding or deleting an asset or a beneficiary, according to FindLaw. Like the will itself, your codicil must be signed and witnessed by at least two witnesses in most states. Some states allow handwritten codicils to be attached to holographic wills -- wills written entirely by hand -- according to FindLaw. You may wish to rewrite your will, on the other hand, if you plan to change large portions of your will, such as when you have children and need to add them and name a guardian, according to FindLaw.

Step 3

Write your codicil or new will. You can write these yourself or have an attorney write them for you. If you choose to write a new will, include a statement in your new will that says it is your last will and testament and that it revokes all previous wills and codicils you have made, according to the American Bar Association. This statement will help prevent confusion over which will you intended to have effect.

Step 4

Consult an attorney. Although an attorney's assistance is not required when making a codicil or a new will, an attorney can help ensure the codicil or new will is valid by ensuring it follows the rules in your state for making and executing wills, according to the American Bar Association. Check with your attorney once a year to ensure your will covers all your assets and that it is still valid under your state's laws.

Step 5

Gather up all previous codicils and wills and destroy them once the new codicil or will is finished, signed and witnessed.

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How to Amend a Last Will & Testament

References

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How to Change the Executor of a Will

The executor of your will is the person who will carry out the instructions in your will when you die, according to the American Bar Association. This person will be responsible for paying any remaining debts you have and for distributing your property to the beneficiaries you name. If you need to change your executor, you may do so by writing an amendment to your will, known as a codicil, according to the American Bar Association.

How to Write an Attachment to an Estate Will

You don't need to start from scratch to make changes to your will. You can modify your will by simply attaching new directions to it. You can also attach a list identifying your personal belongings and to whom you are leaving them. Each state has its owns laws regarding estate planning, and an attorney can answer specific questions about attachments to your will.

How to Add a Page to My Last Will & Testament

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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