Can I Change My Will After It’s Created?

Drafting a will is an important step in securing your legacy and ensuring your wishes are honored. At Jordan & White, LLC, we often encounter questions about the flexibility of a will after its creation. It’s a common concern: life changes, and so might your wishes. Here, we discuss how and when you can update your will, ensuring it accurately reflects your current intentions.

Understanding the Flexibility of a Will

First, it’s crucial to understand that a will is not set in stone. As life evolves, so can your will. Whether it’s the birth of a new family member, a change in financial circumstances, or a shift in your relationships, your will can be adjusted to accommodate these changes. At Jordan & White, LLC, we ensure your will remains a true reflection of your current wishes, providing peace of mind that your legacy is protected.

The Process of Amending Your Will

For that reason, amending a will is a common necessity as life circumstances change. Understanding the process is crucial for ensuring that your estate plan remains aligned with your current wishes and circumstances. Here’s a detailed look at each approach.

Using a Codicil for Minor Changes

  1. What is a Codicil?: A codicil is a supplementary document used to make minor changes, amendments, or clarifications to an existing will. It is particularly useful for small adjustments like changing an executor, altering a specific bequest, or updating a beneficiary’s name.
  2. Creating the Codicil: When drafting a codicil, the document must clearly state that it is meant to amend, and not replace, the existing will. It should reference the date of the original will and clearly specify the changes being made.
  3. Legal Formalities: Like the original will, a codicil must adhere to the same legal formalities. This includes being in writing, signed by the testator (the person making the will), and witnessed by at least two competent adults who are not beneficiaries of the will.
  4. Attaching to the Original Will: Once completed and properly executed, the codicil should be kept with the original will. This ensures that when the will is presented for probate, the codicil is also considered.

Drafting a New Will for Significant Changes

  1. When to Create a New Will: For more substantial changes, such as adding or removing multiple beneficiaries, significantly altering asset distribution, or changing fundamental terms, drafting a new will is advisable. This helps prevent any confusion that multiple codicils might create.
  2. Revoking the Old Will: The new will should include a statement that expressly revokes (legally cancels) all previous wills and codicils. This is important to avoid any legal confusion during the probate process.
  3. Similar Formalities: As with the original will and any codicil, the new will must be written, and signed in the presence of at least two witnesses, and should follow all other legal requirements of will creation in your jurisdiction.

The Role of Legal Assistance

  1. Ensuring Legal Validity: Whether opting for a codicil or a new will, it’s important to ensure that all legal requirements are met. This includes not just the signing and witnessing, but also making sure that the language used clearly reflects your intentions.
  2. Professional Guidance: At Jordan & White, LLC, we offer professional guidance throughout this process. Our team ensures that the changes are not only legally sound but also effectively incorporated into your broader estate plan.
  3. Avoiding Common Pitfalls: Amending a will without professional help can lead to mistakes or ambiguities that could complicate the probate process. We help avoid these pitfalls by providing clear, legally robust documents.

Contact Your Estate Planning Attorneys on the North Shore of Massachusetts

At Jordan & White, LLC, we understand that your will is a personal and important document. Our approach is to work closely with you, ensuring that any changes to your will are carefully considered and legally sound. We take pride in our ability to provide personalized and professional assistance in updating your will, we are here to help you make decisions that will benefit your family in the long term. Call us today at 978-744-2811 or contact us online for assistance with crafting a comprehensive estate plan that suits your individual needs.