Any time there is a major change in your life, it is a best practice to update your will. Major changes are usually a marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child. Additionally, there may come a time when you want to change your beneficiaries, or add or subtract property to be devised.
For minor changes in your will, you would probably just want to make a codicil. With a codicil, you can make specific changes to certain items while leaving the rest of the will unchanged.
To have legal effect, though, a codicil has to adhere to the same formalities as a will. That means the testator has to be mentally competent and has to sign the document, and there have to be two disinterested witnesses. Handwritten updates on an attested will not suffice. In fact, it may actually cause the updates to be ignored or the will to be void.
Can a testator make a series of codicils with changes over the years?
Yes, but that can be confusing for your representative who will have to piece it all together. There can also be confusion as to what is a codicil and what is a will. If a second document does not expressly revoke the previous will in its entirety, it will be seen as a codicil. As such, the rest of the will can stand as valid. If any changes to the will become confusing, we recommend contacting a professional. They can handle the changes to ensure the legality of your will.
If a testator has made a series of codicils, or has major changes to make to the will, it may be best just to draft a whole new will for peace of mind. These major changes may be: a new spouse or children, cutting out a beneficiary, changing family distributions, adding charitable contributions, etc.
Contact us today to for a free consultation about making changes in your will!