Having a will provides reassurance that when we’re gone, we’ve taken care of loved ones and the assets we've worked to acquire. Creating a will, initially, provides guidance and outlines our desired outcome for assets and guardianship – if applicable – after we pass. After major life changes and new perspectives, it may be necessary to update a will, to ensure it follows our current interests and needs. Learning how to amend a will without a lawyer can save you time and money while ensuring proper protection after you die.
It’s recommended that a will is reviewed or revised every four to five years, even if no major life events have taken place. Updating a will doesn’t have to be a long and arduous process. Read on to learn about why you might choose to update your will, and how to do so.
What Does Codicil To Will Mean?
A codicil to a will is a supplementary legal document, allowing you to make changes and adjustments to a will without needing to rewrite. This secondary document will then be attached to the original will, indicating the changes that have been made.
A codicil is often used to make minor changes, such as a name change for a beneficiary who has gotten married. The updated codicil will need to be written clearly, and signed by witnesses as the state requires. Many states instruct on how to write a codicil to a will, requiring witnesses and regulations. The codicil should then be stored with the original will.
Should I Make A New Will Or Modify An Existing One?
Whether you choose to write a new will or update an old one will depend on the changes you wish to make. If you only need a small change, such as naming a new executor, a codicil will often suffice. But if you intend to make a major change, or several small changes, it’s often easier to simply write a new will. It’s important to note that if a new will is created, you will need to formally revoke the old will to avoid confusion and potential dispute later.
Codicils were frequently used when wills had to be handwritten, as the process of rewriting the entire will is time-consuming. Adding a codicil to a will ensures your newest wishes are honored, while saving time and expense. But with computers speeding up the process, and easy online will services such as Wills.com, codicils are quick processes and in some situations unnecessary.
State law requires producing a codicil to follow the same process as writing the original will. Because of this, it’s often easier to simply make a new will, rather than modify the existing one.
The major benefit of a new will is that it reduces the risk of confusion caused by numerous codicils. When writing a new will, you’re able to void older documents, which can then be destroyed. Then, when it comes to reading the will, this one clear document will be easier to process than an old will with a wealth of codicils, and less likely to lead to challenges.
What To Consider Before Changing A Will
While the act of changing the will is easy with Wills.com, the planning and thought behind it might not be as simple. Regularly reviewing the will, around once every five years, makes these decisions easier, and ensures your will stays up to date.
Major life changes will often necessitate the change of a will. For example, a change in marital status, or a new child. These events often trigger a change of will, to better reflect the current circumstances of your life.
Financial changes can also lead to rewriting a will. A financial windfall, or a setback, might alter what you choose to do with your assets. Similarly, a change in estate law may present a better strategy for your will.
Before changing a will, consider if it’s better to write a new one, or to add a codicil. In many cases, to avoid confusion, rewriting the will is the better choice. If you have a will with Wills.com, you can make a new will at no additional cost.
How To Change A Will
Changing a will requires either a rewrite, or a codicil. Both processes will require at least two witnesses, but a codicil can add confusion to the original document. Writing a new will reduces the risk of challenges, and is just as easy as adding a codicil.
With Wills.com, you can write a new will free of charge, receive step-by-step guidance, and have it notarized. A lawyer isn’t needed to change a will, but witnesses or a notary are required. The process of changing a will is relatively simple. Write your new will with any changes, and include a note that all old wills are now void. Have your will notarized via Wills.com. Destroy or revoke any old documentation, and replace it with your new will.
To change a beneficiary on a will, it’s better to rewrite, particularly if someone is being added or removed. This will make it harder for any challenges. If you simply wish to change the name of a beneficiary, a codicil might seem quicker, but will probably take just as long as writing the will.
A will can be changed without the executor knowing, assuming the correct will writing process is followed. However, it’s better to inform the executor of any changes, so they can carry out your wishes accurately.
Can I Update A Will Myself?
Updating and rewriting a new will has to follow the same procedures as creating the original will. Only you can change your will, and the process will have to be viewed by two or more witnesses, or notarized. You may wish to involve a lawyer, but this will come at a cost. You can change your will for free with our easy-to-use, online process. Having done so, it’s best to inform your executor, and destroy any old copies of the will. This can prevent challenges to the will at a future date.
Regularly reviewing your will is the best way to ensure that it stays true to your wishes. This can be done for free if you create a will with Wills.com. Whether you have an old will that needs to be updated, or you’re looking to create a will, visit Wills.com to learn how we can help you.