If you have a will in place, you may be wondering if you can make changes to it after it has been signed. Is it advisable to make a handwritten change to a will without an attorney? The answer is you should make revisions to a will after consulting with an attorney to ensure your changes will be honored after you pass. Our Florida estate planning attorney can help you properly update or change a will.
Making Changes to Your Will
It is not uncommon for a person to update or change their will after they have created it. Life events or other developments may be behind the impetus for change. However, crossing out portions of your will and handwriting in new information may not be valid under Florida law. Wills that appear to be modified by hand are viewed with suspicion by a probate court, and a court will likely disregard handwritten changes.
The proper way to update or change your will is by creating what is called a codicil or by creating a new will. A codicil is a process that is usually used when only minor changes are being made to a will. Even though it may be a short or straightforward document, it must still be executed in accordance with Florida law to be recognized as a valid amendment to your will by a probate court.
In Florida, a codicil must be executed in the same manner as a will. This means:
- The person making the will must either sign the will at the end or direct someone else in their presence to sign the will with their name
- Two witnesses must observe the signing of the will and sign the will as witnesses in the presence of each other
Failure to follow proper execution procedures can make the codicil invalid. The same goes for an entirely new will. Generally speaking, it is better to create a wholly new will rather than a codicil unless the changes being made truly are minor.
Common Reasons to Change a Will
There are many reasons a person may wish to update or change their will. The most common reasons are:
- A person has a child or another child since their original will was written and wishes to provide for their child or new addition in their will
- A life event makes one concerned about choosing a guardian for minor children
- A person goes through a divorce and the provisions of their prior will leaving their assets to their spouse no longer reflect their wishes and new relationship status
- A person comes into one or more large assets and wishes to specify who will get it upon their death
- A person’s wealth increases, and they have concerns about avoiding estate taxation
- A person previously chosen to administer your will or be an heir to your will passes away
- You change your mind about who you wish to inherit your assets
Of course, there are many other reasons you may wish to change your will. You may also believe you need to change your will when perhaps it is unnecessary to do so- such as when a child changes their name due to marriage. Whatever the reason, it is best to consult with an attorney before making any changes.
Consult With an Attorney
If you have questions about how to revise or update your will, contact our office today for a free consultation.