Looking at your will is something that you have to do at least once in a while. Even if you think that nothing has changed, you might be a little surprised. For example, you might have gotten married or divorced, married again, or brought in children since the will was drafted.
There are essentially two ways to revise a will. The most common way is to revoke the old will and draft up a new will. However, this might be a little costly if you’re going to go through a lawyer. You want to look at perhaps just making an amendment to your will. That’s called a codicil.
Every state handles these laws differently, so you will need to ensure that you are well within the legal guidelines if you’re going to do this on your own. Of course, if your estate is going to be complicated, you will definitely want to get a lawyer. Of course, I’m not just saying this because I’m a lawyer. I’m saying that it’s essential to get another pair of eyes on something that affects so many people. Not doing your will properly could leave out an heir that shouldn’t be excluded.
If you want to revoke a will, you just need to write a statement. You can get legal help for the precise language, but that’s not always necessary. Just make it clear that you are revoking the will and considering all previous wills and codicils to be void. This is usually enough to revoke a will, but all of the previous wills need to be destroyed. There have been some cases where there’s a lot of confusion.
Adding a codicil is a lot more work. Indeed, you have to make sure that it’s signed, dated, and witnessed. However, it lets you amend specific portions. If you are going to go the codicil route, be prepared for a lot more legal legwork. That’s pretty tough!
Overall, if you are ever in doubt…lawyer up. Trust me on this one — estates can get tricky and it’s easier to handle it while you’re still alive than when it’s too late!