Can I Change My Will after I’ve Made It?

After you have made your will, your circumstances are likely to change. You may have more children, get divorced, remarry, acquire more assets, or have a falling out with a friend or family member. Laws can even change, which could result in your will being ineffective or invalid. The list is really endless. Therefore, you can—and it's often necessary—to change your will after you have made it.

Executing a New Will

Many people wonder if there are restrictions on when a will can be changed; for example, clients often ask, "Can I change my will during a divorce?" In New Jersey, you can change your will whenever you want to. Perhaps the easiest way to change a will is to make a new will. When you create the new will, be sure to write a statement in the new will that you revoke all previously made wills and codicils. You should also destroy any of your previous wills to avoid any confusion or challenges to your new will.

Another way to change your will is through a codicil. A codicil is a document stating amendments to an original will. You can use a codicil to revoke part of your will or add a new provision. In order to be valid, codicils must be dated, signed, and witnessed by two people (just like the original last will and testament). In most cases, codicils aren't recommended because they can be lost, cause confusion during probate, and sometimes lead to will challenges.

Changing a Will without a Lawyer

Frequently people ask, "Can I change my will without a lawyer?" or "Can I change my will myself?" You should never make handwritten changes to your last will and testament after it has been signed by you and your witnesses. This may compromise your will's validity.
That said, you can change your will without a lawyer, but you must follow all of the steps for creating a valid will in order for the changes to be effective. It's always best to talk to an estate planning attorney before you make any amendments to your will to ensure they are executed properly and will produce your desired outcome.

If you need to change your will or amend any other estate planning documents, call The Law Offices of Smith & Doran for a consultation. We can help ensure that your estate plan achieves your goals for the future.