I Need to Change My Will. What Do I Do?
It is very common for your estate planning needs and goals to change throughout your life. The birth of a child, a divorce, the purchase of a large asset, or the death of a beneficiary can drastically affect the distribution of your property after you die. If you already have a will, it is important to update your will to reflect these changes. Unfortunately, updating your will isn’t as easy as simply making a note. To make sure your family is protected and your wishes are honored, it is best to consult with a Boca Raton probate attorney to understand your options.
What Not to Do
Many people are under the mistaken impression that they can simply write or type their changes onto the original will. They will then sign or initial the changes and think that the amendment is then valid. These sorts of changes to the will are never valid and will not be enforced by the probate court.
Alternatively, they may write a letter or create some other document that purportedly changes the contents of their will. We will discuss how these can be valid changes to a will, but typically they are not. Rather than risk your estate plan, the better course of action is to meet with a Boca Raton probate attorney to discuss the changes you would like to make.
If you wish to amend your will, one option is to prepare a codicil. Codicils are legal documents that identify what you wish to amend in your will. They are subject to all the same requirements as wills, but most importantly, must be executed in the same manner as a will. This means that it must be signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses who must also sign it.
We recommend that you work with a Boca Raton probate attorney if you wish to have a codicil made to your will. Your lawyer can make sure that the codicil does not create any ambiguities that could later lead to a will contest.
Should You Just Draft a New Will?
The other option you have is to simply revoke your prior will and have a new one created that includes the changes you wish to make. This is often the better option because it avoids the possibility of confusion or conflict that a codicil can create. However, it is vital that you take clear and convincing steps to revoke your will. Under Florida law, there are two ways that you can revoke your will:
- Revocation by writing; or
- Revocation by act
This may sound straightforward but, if not done correctly, it can lead to disputes over whether your prior will was properly revoked. A Boca Raton probate attorney can help ensure that your prior will is properly revoked in order to minimize the risk of future disputes.
Contact a Boca Raton Probate Attorney at Ellis Law Group Today
If you have a will that needs to be updated, we can provide you with the guidance you need. Call us today at 561-910-7500 or send us an email to schedule an appointment to discuss your options and how we can help.