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Modifying your will: Where to start

Things change. The people in your life come and go. New children are born, and people pass away. Life is always changing, and because of that, you may need to update your will.

Changing a will is relatively easy. You need to make sure that you follow the laws closely, though, or you could end up leaving behind a will that is contested or made invalid.

How do you modify your will?

First, you need to identify what you need to modify. For example, if you want to add a beneficiary, write down all the vital information about that individual to give to your attorney. Some people might believe that they can cross out names and replace them with their own handwriting, but you need to understand that doing this could invalidate your entire will. Always make sure a new will is printed out with the correct information, sign it, and have it witnessed.

Creating a codicil

A codicil is a document you attach to your will. It has changes listed in it. The codicil indicates changes you want to make to your will without altering the original document. The codicil usually has to be prepared and signed similarly to how you originally signed the will. Some states require two witnesses to watch you as you sign the codicil. Even if your state doesn't, it's a good idea to have multiple witnesses, so there's a lower chance of someone trying to fight the changes later on.

Add a memorandum

Another option is to add a memorandum. A memorandum attaches to the will just like a codicil. You can only do this if you already have a memorandum on your will, which is something to discuss with your attorney.

Making changes to a will is a normal part of the estate planning process. Take your time and make sure you take the right legal steps to make your will binding.

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