Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How do I change my will?

This is usually done in one of two ways. First, a person may amend their will. In estate planning we call an amendment a "codicil". It is an addition and/or modification to the existing document. When a codicil is done you now have two documents which must be read together. So when you do a codicil  you do not destroy your original will. You need both to understand what the writer wanted to do with his property at his death. The Court will need all codicils and the will. For a codicil to be valid it must meet all the formalities required of a will and be signed and witnessed in the exact same manner as is required of a will. In a codicil reference is usually made to the original will.  This is not a do it yourself project. Always consult with an attorney if you are considering making changes in your current will before you take any action.

Depending on the changes (complexity and number) it might be more efficient to prepare a new will. The new will ordinarily have a provision at the beginning stating that the testator (person making the will) is revoking any prior will. This new will will now be the document that controls the disposition of your property at your death. Again this is not a do it yourself project because if these documents are not prepared properly they may not work as you intended and you won't know what mistake you are making.

The biggest mistake is when people pull out their will prepared by an attorney,  signed and witnessed properly and start marking it up with changes. In Illinois, this will result in the changes being ignored by the probate court or worse yet, the Court determining that you made so many or extensive changes that the entire will is revoked and you have no will at all. You may never realized that you destroyed the effectiveness of the document and that none of the changes will be effective. Always consult an attorney.

William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you!   http://www.wombacherlaw.com
 
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and  Knox Counties in Central Illinois.

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