Is a Handwritten Change on a Will Legal?

By Beverly Bird

Individual state laws govern wills, so what you can do to your will without invalidating it depends on where you live. Although you don't technically break the law if you make handwritten changes, you run the risk of the court either declining to accept your entire will as valid or refusing to abide by the changes if you don't make them correctly.

Formalizing the Change

Having a new will prepared when you want to make substantial changes is always preferable. But if it's difficult for you to get to the lawyer's office, or you just want to amend one item or make a minor change, at least two states have ruled that handwritten updates are acceptable under certain circumstances. A Georgia court ruled that changes to a will were valid if the decedent initialed them. Texas laws provide that such changes are acceptable if you memorialize them in the same way you did your will -- you must place your signature beneath or close to the change.

Adding a Codicil

Another option is to add a codicil to your will to explain the changes. This also usually requires that you sign it and have it witnessed just as you did your will. In states that recognize holographic or handwritten wills, it may be acceptable if the entire codicil is in your own handwriting, even if your will is not. If you're unsure about the rules in your state, consult with a lawyer to avoid invalidating important aspects of your estate plan.

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Is Amending Your Will Yourself Legal in Iowa?

A will or testament is a legal document that disposes of property upon a person's death and designates a guardian for the decedent's minor children, if any. When a person creates a will in Iowa, he must follow the state's prescribed legal procedures for drafting a will so it is valid and will be implemented upon death. The same legal procedures must also be strictly followed to amend a will.

How to Nullify an Executor on a Will

If you want to nullify the executor on your will, you can amend your will by executing a codicil. Codicils are suitable for making minor changes such as removing an executor and naming a new one. However, if there are other portions of your will you want to change, it's advisable to make a new will that unequivocally and expressly revokes your existing will.

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If you live in Georgia, you may make changes to your will by executing a codicil. A codicil must comply with Georgia law regarding will formalities. In other words, a codicil requires a mentally competent "testator," or will maker, and two mentally competent witnesses to be valid in Georgia.

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