Altering an Existing Will
Even the best estate plan cannot anticipate every contingency. As your circumstances change, you may wish to make adjustments to your will. However, even clearly necessary changes should not be made lightly. Altering an estate plan, even in a seemingly small way, should command the same level of care and attention to detail as the formation of a new estate plan from scratch.
There are two ways in which a person can alter an existing will:
- Codicil — A codicil is an addendum to a will that is prepared as a separate document. It is subject to the same execution requirements as the will itself and is typically not valid unless signed by the testator and at least two witnesses. A codicil does not revoke the existing will, except to the extent that it modifies or revokes particular provisions. A codicil is often useful for additions or small changes.
- Revocation and execution — In some cases you may wish to make extensive changes to your will. In these situations, attempting to do so by codicil can potentially result in a vague and contradictory mess. Therefore, it may be advisable to simply revoke the former will and draft and execute an entirely new document. A person can revoke a will either by executing a subsequent will that expressly revokes all prior wills or by destroying the original former will with the intent to revoke it. Doing both is usually advisable as leaving multiple wills can generate confusion. What's more, it can also generate a will contest if an heir discovers that a prior will was more favorable than the current one.
Changing an estate plan does not have to be a major ordeal. However, it is something that should be preceded by careful planning and thorough forethought. An experienced Florida wills attorney can help you review you current estate plan to determine what changes are needed and the best way to effectuate them.