You’ve reviewed your old will and decided that some or all of it doesn’t work for you anymore. So, what should you do? You have two options: start over or attach a “codicil.”
Starting Over With A New Will
If your old will needs significant changes then it may be easiest to simply revoke your old will and create a new one altogether. For example, you need to sign a new will if your old will referred to your first spouse but you have since divorced that person and married someone new.
Your new will “revokes” your previous will, meaning that it replaces your previous will and makes it void. However, it is still good practice to destroy your previous will to avoid any confusion.
Creating A Codicil
A codicil is a document you sign to make a minor alteration to your will. Codicils are used to make small changes to your will, not to make significant updates to your estate plan.
You signed your first will in January, 2014 leaving all of your property to your wife. Two years later you buy an antique watch. Your cousin is an avid watch collector, so you would like him to have the watch after you pass away. You could attach a codicil to your will leaving that specific watch to your cousin without changing any other provision of your will.
If, on the other hand, you wanted to change your will so that your wife and your cousin split ALL of your property between the two of them after you die, then you would be better off signing a new will altogether.
Codicils must be signed, witnessed, and notarized the same way as wills are. Your codicil should be attached to your will and the two kept together.
An Estate Planning Lawyer Can Help
Not sure whether you need a new will or a codicil? Your estate planning lawyer can discuss your situation and determine which option is right for you.
Online do-it-yourself forms can be tempting, but remember that estate planning isn’t one-size-fits-all, and that online forms can create problems that cost your heirs time and money down the road.
A lawyer can help you make sure that your will works for you and your loved ones, and coordinate it with your overall estate plan. Get peace of mind by talking to our experienced estate planning attorneys today. Call us at 205-553-5353 or come by our Tuscaloosa office to find out what we can do to protect your assets and your family.
Lewis, Lewis & Falkner, LLC. | Attorneys at Law | 2224 15th Street Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
Phone: +205 553 5353 | Fax: +205 553 5593
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