There are unavoidable instances wherein you may want to change details, properties, your executor, or even inheritors in your last will. This is normal and may happen several times throughout your life, hopefully, because of your estate’s growth. When this happens, you may simply draft a new last will using a free document creation tool, or you may just want to amend it.
When Do I Need To Change My Last Will?
We all undergo numerous changes at some point in our lives—we meet many people, stumble upon opportunities, move to new places, or upgrade our lifestyles. Throughout these big adjustments, it is necessary to update our will now and then. When finding yourself in the situations below, it will be a good idea to make changes to your last will.
- Marriage: This would usually equate to several legal changes apart from your status, taxes, and such. Once married, you must declare your wife or husband as an inheritor, unless the state or another legal document doesn’t require it.
- Divorce: After divorce, you may remove your ex-partner from your list of inheritors. If you leave his or her name on your will, they may still take a part of your estate.
- Common-law marriage: If you find yourself in an unofficial marriage, it is important to declare your common-law wife or husband in your will, especially since they cannot inherit anything from you otherwise.
- Same-sex marriage: Like a common-law marriage, same-sex unions are not considered in most states in terms of spouse inheritance rights.
- New baby: If you have a newborn, it’s time to update your will to include him or her as your inheritor as well as someone whom the appointed guardian can raise.
- Having stepchildren: Unless adopted, stepchildren are not automatically considered as inheritors.
- New heir: If you want to add someone who isn’t your child (e.g., grandchild) or isn’t a relative, you must specify it in the will.
- Death of one of your beneficiaries: If you outlive an inheritor, the asset or money allocated for him or her must be distributed to others.
- Moving to another state: different states have different estate laws. It is vital to revise your will accordingly once you move.
- New appraisal of your property: properties and assets change in value over time. After getting an appraisal, you may update your will based on the said value.
- New assets: Likewise, if you acquire a new asset, add that into your will and specify to whom it will be given.
- New charity: If you find yourself supporting a new cause and would like to donate a part of your estate, add the organization’s name as one of your beneficiaries.
- Appointing a new guardian for your children: If anything happens to your appointed guardian, may it be a lifestyle change or incapability, you will need to appoint someone else as a guardian.
- Changing your executor: in the same way, an executor can also be changed when deemed necessary.
How Do I Change My Will?
1. Decide if you want to write a new will or amend it.
For some, it may be easier to write an entirely new will if they haven’t done so in a while. In cases where multiple changes have piled up throughout the years, you can start from scratch and create a new document. This last will and testament template will serve as a new and valid one, but remember to revoke the old will legally. It is usually done with a simple clause at the start of a new last will.
If you are only updating one detail, such as your new heir or new guardian’s name, you may want to simply amend it. Continue with the following steps if this will be your course of action.
2. Find A Codicil Template.
A codicil is a document that is attached to the old will and serves as an amendment tool for wills. This is usually the best fit for straightforward changes.
3. Check State Laws.
It’s essential to brush up on your state’s legalities to ensure your codicil or new will is enforceable. If you want to avoid additional research, you may wish to seek an attorney’s help.
4. Attach The Old Will.
If you choose to use a codicil to change the will, do not separate it from the old will. These two should go hand-in-hand on the day they need to be taken out and executed.
5. Sign It.
Like the original will, the codicil needs to be signed by you and your witnesses. Please take note that the witnesses to the codicil may or may not be the original ones, as long as they qualify.
6. Ask For An Attorney To Check.
If you have an estate of considerable wealth, your will and codicil may have undetected loopholes leading to future complications if a will is contested. It’s therefore recommended to seek legal advice to secure your family’s future inheritance.
Consider Reading: Life in the Day of a Lawyer
7. Notarize and File.
Get your codicil stamped and documented by a notary public. Even though this step is not mandatory in most states, they will keep a copy for official filing. If you want to keep things confidential for your safety, hiring a private lawyer is a better option. Then, file the original will and codicil together in a secured place.
Changing a will is simple and easy as long as the revisions are very straightforward. There is no clear-cut way to revise as some prefer creating a new one or just attaching an amendment. Either way, make sure that the changes abide by state laws and do not complicate things in the long run.