How to Remove a Name From a Last Will & Testament

By Marie Murdock

There may come a time for various reasons that you decide to remove a devisee or beneficiary from your Last Will and Testament. You may have previously given him his share of your assets, or for more personal reasons, you may wish to exclude him altogether. Whatever your reason, only you, the Testator, will be able to revise your will to exclude someone as a devisee. When it comes to your last wishes, you have the last word.

Step 1

Prepare, or have your attorney prepare, a codicil, or amendment, to your Last Will and Testament. Keep in mind that a codicil must be properly witnessed, attested and acknowledged in the same manner as your original will. The codicil will state that you are omitting or revising that particular paragraph that mentions the person you are excluding. You may want to make it clear -- even by leaving him $10.00 or some other small amount as his final share -- that you are intentionally excluding him. You may also recite in your codicil, if you desire, your reasons for omitting the person. Some state laws will not allow you to disinherit a spouse totally by use of a will or codicil alone. A marital agreement signed by both husband and wife, however, may allow his or her omission from the inheritance.

Step 2

Prepare an entirely new will if the changes you are making are substantial enough to require it. For instance, if the person you are omitting is the only devisee under your old will and you are adding a new devisee to replace him, then it would be preferable to destroy your old will and have your attorney prepare a new one. It would be advisable to make sure that not only the original, but also all copies of your former will are destroyed to prevent someone attempting to probate it in place of your original will.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Step 3

Divorce your spouse. A divorce may not entirely invalidate a will; however, in many states, it will remove the former spouse from any provisions of the will as if she had predeceased the Testator, or will-maker. Many states require that a couple be separated for one year before filing for divorce. You should use caution if you are in this situation, as barring a court agreement to the contrary, the spouse may still inherit under your will during the separation period.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to Amend a Last Will & Testament


Related articles

Can I Keep My Assets Separate From My Wife in a Will?

When you undertake estate planning, you may not want to transfer assets to your wife. The degree to which you may want to deny assets to your wife upon your death may vary. You may only want to keep certain assets from your wife so that your children receive them because those goods mean more to them. On the other hand, you may not want to leave your wife anything at all. If you are married at the time of your death, your wife generally has a right to a portion of your estate. You can leave specific assets to other beneficiaries. The degree to which you can keep your wife from inheriting your assets depends on the state in which you live.

State Laws on Wills

While all states have their own legislation regarding wills, the laws tend to be similar in most jurisdictions. For instance, all states accept statutory wills, prepared by an attorney or printed by the maker to follow a specified legal format, and most states prevent spouses from being totally disinherited, though how much they can receive can vary. Because of this variance, when making your will it may be best to consult a lawyer who's familiar with the specific statutes in your state.

Guide to Fault Divorce in Massachusetts

Before a Massachusetts court can grant your divorce petition, it must have a reason for the divorce, called grounds. Massachusetts allows both fault-based and no-fault grounds, and the grounds you choose will vary depending on your circumstances and whether you have enough evidence to prove your spouse is at fault for the breakdown of your marriage.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

What Is the New Jersey Law Regarding Children Left Out of Wills?

Not all states allow you to intentionally disinherit your child, but New Jersey does, according to an article by ...

How to Exclude People When Making a Will

Most states will not allow you to exclude your spouse from your will. According to the American Bar Association, this ...

Last Will & Testament in a Divorce

Although estate laws vary somewhat from state to state, they generally protect spouses from being completely ...

North Carolina Laws Regarding Wills

Every state has its own specific statutes when it comes to wills. A will that doesn’t comply with North Carolina’s laws ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED