As the circumstances in your life change, you may also want or need to amend your Will, especially if your family has gained members by way of children being born, changed family members such as by marriage or divorce, or bought or sold a considerable amount of property like houses, other real estate, and cars. Another reason to amend your Will is the death of a beneficiary or executor.
When you want to change your Will, you can do so by either adding something called a codicil or by writing a completely new Will. What follows is some additional information that you need to know about amending or revoking a Will.
What is a Codicil?
A codicil is a very short, concise document that must be attached to the original Will and that must observe the same formalities as the original, including the need to be witnessed by two parties. A codicil can be ideal for making small changes to a Will.
The only other way to make a change to your Will is to revoke or invalidate your Will and to rewrite it completely. This is may be preferable for more complex changes.
How to Revoke a Will
There are several ways that you can revoke or invalidate your Will. This can be done either on purpose or by accident, so it is important that you understand how this can happen.
The easiest way to revoke your Will is to tear it up. Your destruction of the Will, by any mean, either on purpose or unintentionally, also destroys any legal effect it had.
Another way to revoke your Will is to write a new one and indicate inside the new one that all previous Wills you have written will thereafter have no effect and be invalid. Even if you don’t indicate this, executing a new Will usually revokes all the old ones automatically.
Losing a Will
One way you might unintentionally invalidate your Will is if you lose the original. The general rule is if somebody has only a copy of your Will and the original can’t be found, then there is a rebuttable presumption that the Will was destroyed.
This presumption can be overcome by proving to the court that the Will was not destroyed, that it was valid, and by providing sufficient evidence of your desires as expressed in the lost Will. Otherwise, if there is no copy and your original can’t be found, your estate will likely pass in accordance with California intestate succession laws.
Why Hire An Experienced Estate Planning Attorney?
While it is not necessary to hire a lawyer to help you execute a codicil or to rewrite your Will, it is a very good idea. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney to help you avoid mistakes that could inadvertently invalidate your Will or codicil.
When looking for someone to help you amend or revoke your Will, you want to choose an attorney who specializes in estate planning and probate. Contact The Law Offices Of Bridget Mackay in Petaluma, CA by visiting our contact page for assistance with this or any other estate planning needs.