Justin Jeppesen: How to Change a Will

Recently, I wrote about “When to Change a Will.” If you read that and you have decided that a change needs to be addressed in your Will, you may question how to go about making that change. Do you need a whole new Will, or just a minor change? Small changes typically don’t justify a whole new Will.

So, are options available to you to make these small changes that don’t always justify a new Will? Yes. You can have an attorney draft a codicil (that is Will speak for an amendment).

A "codicil" does not revoke the entire Will, but it does change certain provisions. The probate court will read the Will with all the codicils together to determine your final intent. A Codicil to a Will is prepared, signed and witnessed in the same manner as your Last Will and Testament. It is because of this preparation, signing, witnessing and notarizing that I highly encourage contacting Jeppesen Law to draft your Codicil.

Care must be taken in writing a Codicil to define just what changes are being made to your Will. If an heir is to be removed or added, it must be clearly stated. A codicil should be kept together with the original Will to assure that it will not be overlooked when the estate is probated. A codicil is governed by the same rules as a Will. Therefore, if a codicil is missing, it may be presumed to have been previously revoked unless conclusively proven otherwise, or unknown.

All changes made in a Codicil must comply with the same formalities used in making a new Will. A person who simply deletes old provisions or inserts new clauses brings the validity of the Will into question. You can revoke your Will at any time by another Will or simply by destroying the old Will. Some states consider the writing of the new clauses as an effective revocation of the old Will, but may not be considered validly creating a new Will.

You should never write a change on the Will document. All changes to a Will should be by a valid codicil or a new Will, by following the laws of the State in which you reside. Given the ease with which an attorney can create a new Will or a Codicil to a pre-existing Will, there is no reason to risk invalidation of an existing Will by writing on it. Just prepare a new Will or a codicil.

Jeppesen Law can provide you with a Will based estate plan that covers incapacitation as well as death. With our Free Initial Consultation we help our clients explore their own situations and plan for their futures. If you have more questions, we'd love to help! Contact Jeppesen Law now. I wish you all the best. (208) 477-1785.