What Options Do I Have for Changing My Last Will?

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There are a few ways to change will.

You are considering changing your will.

Perhaps your spouse died or you are now divorced.

Perhaps you have added more children to your family.

Maybe you need to address new laws within your state or at the federal level.

Periodically changing your will is not unusual. In fact, it is prudent.

Change happens.

According to a recent nwi.com article titled “Temporarily changing a will,” you should review your will and update your estate plan with an experienced estate planning attorney every three or four years.

Your attorney will typically recommend one of three options when it comes to updating your will.

What are they?

You have several options for changing your will.
An experienced estate planning attorney can help you choose the best option for updating your will.

Fully revoke the will.

How do you do this?

You can physically destroy the document.

Be sure you shred all copies of the document and inform your attorney of this action.

You could also execute a formal revocation.

This makes your will non-existent or invalid.

Executing a revocation is the safest way to ensure the will no longer has any power or authority.

Still, this is not the “best practices” approach.

Execute a new will.

This is the typical course of action.


If you have revoked your will, then execute a new will without delay or risk dying intestate.

What is that?

Dying “intestate” means you have abdicated any authority to make decisions regarding the guardians for orphaned minors, the executor of your estate, and the distribution of any assets subject to probate.

Instead, a probate judge selects the guardians and the executor, and your assets are distributed according to state law when you die intestate.


When your attorney creates a new will it should clearly declare that all prior wills and codicils are revoked.

Customarily this declaration is addressed in the very first paragraph of a thoughtfully prepared will.

Execute an amendment to the will.

This is the third way to change your will.

Will amendments are actually called “codicils.”

What does this mean?

The will you have in place remains valid, except for any provisions you specifically change.

When changing your will, work with an experienced estate planning attorney who will be able to advise you on the best course of action for your unique circumstances.

This is not a DIY project.

Reference: nwi.com (September 8, 2019) “Temporarily changing a will.”

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