Writing a New Will

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I’ve Already Written a Will - When is Writing a New Will Necessary?

It’s important to have a valid will in place that covers how your property will be distributed upon death.  The earlier you do this, the better, but sometimes a will needs to be replaced with a new one.  There are many significant events in life that might make writing a new will necessary.  Some of these changes include:

A good rule of thumb is to review your existing will after any major events occur in your life.  You’ll want to check and see if your will might be affected by the new changes.  It’s also a good idea to periodically review your will every few years even new events haven’t occurred. 

What Happens To My Old Will if I Write a New One?

In most cases, writing a new will won’t cancel the old one unless you intend for the new will to replace the existing will.  The easiest way to satisfy the intent requirement is to include language in the new will stating that you intend to cancel the prior will. 

You should include a clause that states something like, “I am canceling my will dated ___ and enforcing this new will dated ___”.  Without such language, it is possible that your old will might still be in effect and not the new one.  To avoid confusion, it’s best to refer to each will by its date.

Which is Better - Writing a New Will or Modifying the Old One?

In some cases a person might only need to make a small change to their will rather than rewrite the whole document.  Modifying a will can be done using a “codicil”, which is basically an amendment to the old will.  The codicil needs to be executed using the same formalities for a valid will.  Depending on your circumstances, a using a codicil may or may not be the best option.

For example, simply amending an existing will tends to create confusion, as the amendments can make the will difficult to read.  Also, newer computer forms and technologies have made it much simpler to recreate an entire will based on an existing one.

Thus it is becoming standard practice to simply write a new will if changes need to be made to an old one.  This is especially preferable in situations where many major changes need to be made and the will basically needs a complete overhaul.

Again, the choice of writing a new will versus a codicil will depend on your own individual needs.  If you need guidance as to the proper form for writing a new will, it may be helpful to contact a wills attorney for advice. 

Should I Contact a Lawyer for Help With Writing a New Will?

Writing a new will to replace an old one may be necessary as the years go by.  There are many different requirements for a new will to be valid in place of the old one.  Thus, you may wish to hire a lawyer for help with writing a new will, so that it fulfills the different requirements under your state’s laws.  This can help you and your loved ones avoid any potential will disputes in the future.

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Last Modified: 03-28-2012 02:51 PM PDT

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