Changing Or Amending A Will In California
Once you make your will, you aren’t stuck with it–you can alter, amend or change it at any time. In fact, you should do it–life and your life situation changes, and if your life changes and your will doesn’t, your will may not reflect what you want to happen. Amending a will is not only possible, but it’s good practice.
When Should You Amend Your Will?
Any major life change can be enough to signal that it’s time to amend your will. Marriages, divorces, births, adoptions, even separations without divorces, can trigger the need to amend a will. Have you acquired any major assets? Have assets you have–like a business or a stock–increased significantly in value?
Any of these events can mean it’s time to amend your will. It is best not to wait, as you never know what your health may be.
Your health matters, because in the event you make an amendment that someone disagrees with, they will argue that you did not have the mental capacity to amend your will. It’s best to make amendments now, when you have no serious health conditions, or when your mental state is not in question. This can avoid fighting between beneficiaries and family members, when you are gone.
How to Amend Your Will
If you want to change your will, you could just scrap the whole thing and start over from scratch. But you don’t have to–in fact, most of the time when people amend wills, they really only amend a few parts of it.
Still, completely making a new will may be a better option, if you do have more, larger or more wholesale changes that need to be made to your will. Sometimes, just ditching your old one and creating a new one is better, as it avoids potential conflicts or confusions between the old will, and the amendments to the will. And with electronic wills, revocation and replacement is easier than it was in the past.
An easier way, especially if you just have a few changes to make to your will, is to use what is called a codicil. All a codicil requires is that you write down the changes that you want to make, and sign it along with witnesses who also have to sign. Both the will and the codicil will be attached, and read together. The codicil just reflects changes–it is not by itself, a freestanding document or a complete will on its own.
The law doesn’t allow you just to scratch stuff out and write over your will, the way you may be able to do if you were amending a contract. Your amended will–that is, your codicil–needs to be executed the same way your original will was, for the amendments to be effective.
Call the Torrance estate planning attorneys at Samuel Ford Law today to discuss your estate plan, and how and when it should be reviewed.