Your will is not effective until you die. This means you can update it when circumstances change in your life. But since it’s a legal document, you have to make changes following the right procedures.
You can legally update your will using two methods:
Writing a new will
Writing and signing a new document will revoke the existing will. You will include the particular changes in your new will. You should also state that you have revoked previous wills. While you can still have the revoked wills, consider burning, tearing or shredding them to avoid confusion during probate.
You can also update a will using a codicil. This is a separate legal document that contains the changes to an existing will. To be valid, a codicil should be dated and signed by two witnesses – it should be executed with the same procedures you followed when writing your will.
You can write as many codicils as you want and keep them together with the will in a safe place.
Note that if you have a codicil when writing a new will, you should state that you have revoked previous wills and codicils.
Which option is easier?
The appropriate method to update your will depends on the change. Writing a new will is practical for major changes. You can make minor changes using a codicil.
Can you make handwritten changes to an existing will?
You cannot add or cross out words in your will when you want to make changes. This can invalidate your will, which will be problematic for your loved ones during probate. Besides, the court may ignore the changes.
Updating your will ensures your estate plan reflects your current wishes. With legal guidance, you reduce the chance of problems.