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Can changes be made to a will?

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How do I change or revoke a will?

Your will does not take effect until you die. You can create a new will or revoke or amend an existing will up until your death.

A will remains valid until properly revoked or superseded. Revoking your will must be done very carefully. Most state laws require that the will be revoked by a subsequent instrument (a new will) or by a physical act (e.g., destroying or defacing it). This means the will must either be burned, torn, or canceled with the intent to revoke. You might, for example, write REVOKED across the will and sign and date the revocation.

You can amend (change) your will by executing a codicil. A codicil is a separate, written, and formally executed document that becomes part of your will. More specifically, a codicil is a supplement or addition to a will that explains, modifies, or revokes a previous will provision or that adds an additional provision. A codicil generally should be used only for minor changes to your will. You should execute a new will if there are many changes or a major change.

A codicil should generally be executed with the same formalities as required for a will. In general, the codicil must be signed, dated, and witnessed in accordance with the laws of the appropriate state.

The codicil should be attached to the will it is amending. Be sure to draft, execute, and attach a copy of the codicil to each copy of your will.

Although a new will usually must be contested in its entirety, some states will allow a codicil to be contested on its own. If it is found to be invalid, only the changes contained in the codicil will be voided and the remaining will provisions remain valid.

Some states provide that provisions in a will may be revoked automatically upon marriage or divorce. It is generally a good practice to review your will and make changes as needed upon marriage or divorce, or for any other major changes in your life.


  
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The information presented here should not be construed as tax advice. Please consult a qualified tax professional regarding your specific situation.