Circumstances change, and that's likely to eventually affect your will. At some point, many folks change the documents that'll govern their estates and certain decisions in cases of disability or unavailability. What goes into changing a will? If you wish to modify your documents, you ought to know these four things about the process.
Types of Changes
Most jurisdictions recognize two kinds of formal changes. First, there is a codicil. You add a codicil to an existing will and then legally incorporate it. Second, you can flat-out terminate the current will and draw up a new one.
A will lawyer will almost certainly encourage you to draft an entirely new will. Even if you're changing a single sentence, a new document is preferable. Nullifying the previous will entirely guarantee that no one will be confused about which documents and terms apply versus which do not. The terms from the date of your signature on a brand new will have a much better chance of surviving legal scrutiny.
Reviewing the Previous Will
You want to be sure that modifications are necessary so review the old will with the support of counsel. A will attorney can discuss your goals and explain whether the old document's provision can or can't get the job done.
Even if you intend to draw up a whole new will, there's a good chance you're going to keep portions of the previous one. Your will lawyer can make a copy, and then the two of you can highlight what stays and cross out what has to go.
Witnesses, Signing, and Notarization
Every jurisdiction has different rules about how exactly the witnessing of a will works. It is prudent to not move ahead with the process until you've asked a will attorney what the rules are where you live. You don't want a court to invalidate your will because there wasn't the right number of witnesses present or someone affixed the wrong notary stamp. Once you have the documents and people necessary for the task together, you can then sign it.
Notifications and Records
In theory, you could call the job done at this point. However, it's good form to notify the executor of the will of the changes so nothing will catch them off-guard. Also, it's prudent to tell the major beneficiaries so everyone is on the same page about the will's contents. You should also find a safe place to store the original copy for your records and to allow access when the document is needed.
To get started, contact a will attorney in your area.