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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Revoking or Modifying Your California Will

How do I make changes to an existing will in California?

Life is always moving forward and perpetually changing.  As you age, it is likely that you will attain more assets and have more children.  Your children will grow up and have children of their own.  You may find yourself divorced or could have a falling out with a relative.  All of these life changes could impact your estate plan.   The good news is that you have the ability to alter or revoke your California will at any time before your death.  With the assistance of an experienced California wills and trust attorney, making changes to your will can be done quickly and with ease.

Codicils

One option for updating your will is to create an amendment, known as a codicil.  You cannot simply cross out a provision and write in the new one; to have legal effect, a codicil must be formally executed just like the original will. The codicil will become a part of the will if executed correctly.  While codicils can be useful, given that most wills today are electronic, it is often easier to replace the entire will with a new one as opposed to amending it, particularly because the codicil will require the same signatures.

Revoking a Will

If you have gone through a major life change, such as a divorce, remarriage, children leaving the home, and the like, it is generally a better plan to rewrite your entire will, as opposed to creating a codicil.  Your new will should explicitly state that it revokes all previous wills.  It should also include the date that it is signed and executed.  It can be helpful to keep a copy of the old will, so long as the new one is properly drafted, because it may offer important evidence to refute potential claims of undue influence.  

Review your will regularly to determine whether it needs to be amended.  Contact a California estate planning attorney with any questions concerning your will.  Your lawyer can review the document with you to suggest needed changes or corrections.  

 


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