The Making & Revocation of Wills

By A.L. Kennedy

All 50 states recognize written wills that meet each state's specific requirements for a valid will, according to FindLaw. States also have various legal methods of revoking wills. Whether you are making a will or revoking one, you may wish to consult an attorney who practices estate law in your state to make sure your will meets your state's requirements.

All 50 states recognize written wills that meet each state's specific requirements for a valid will, according to FindLaw. States also have various legal methods of revoking wills. Whether you are making a will or revoking one, you may wish to consult an attorney who practices estate law in your state to make sure your will meets your state's requirements.

Format

Both a will and a statement revoking a will must be in writing in almost all cases no matter which state you're in, according to FindLaw. Both a will and a revocation may be written out by hand, or you may type them or have them typed on a typewriter or computer. Print out a paper copy if you make your will on a computer; as of 2010, only Nebraska accepts wills saved as computer files, according to the American Bar Association.

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Witnesses and Notarization

In all but the most exceptional cases, both a will and a revocation must be signed and witnessed in order to be valid, according to FindLaw. Sign your will at the bottom, then have at least two witnesses sign and date the will as well. Louisiana law also requires you to have the will notarized. In most other states, notarization is not required, but it may help your will move faster through the probate court by providing further proof that your signature and the signatures of your witnesses are genuine. Whether you are revoking your will by making a new will, or revoking part of your will by making an amendment or codicil, make sure to note on the revoking document that it revokes any previous will or part of a will, then sign and date it. Have the revoking document witnessed and notarized just as you would a regular will.

Storage

Store your will and any codicils in a safe place, whether or not it revokes a prior will. Choose a place where your will can be found easily, and one is impervious to fire, flood or similar damage. If you use a safe deposit box, check your state's laws first to ensure that your executor or a family member will be able to enter your safe deposit box to get your will when you die. Some states seal a deceased person's safe deposit box when she passes, according to FindLaw.

Revocation by Act

In addition to revoking a prior will by writing a new will or adding a codicil or amendment to a prior will, you may also revoke a will by physical act in most states, according to FindLaw. If you wish to revoke a will by act, make sure the act either destroys the will completely, such as by burning or shredding, or makes it completely illegible, such as by scribbling over the words. Otherwise, a partly destroyed will may come up in a will contest if one of your beneficiaries believes you did not mean to destroy the will, according to FindLaw.

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References

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