Estate Planning Pitfall: You’ve Amended Your Will Yourself

You may want to revise your legally valid will for a number of reasons as changes occur in your family’s circumstances over time. Adding a newborn grandchild as a beneficiary, removing an adult child’s spouse after a divorce, or changing a named executor, guardian, or beneficiary after the original has passed away are all common reasons to want to make revisions to your will.

However, resist the temptation to revise the will yourself without first understanding what is required to ensure the validity of your will and these revisions. The laws regarding these revisions vary depending on the state in which you live, so following an online template to change your will may be insufficient.

The amended will usually needs to be witnessed, and could even need to be notarized in your state. It is best to work with an experienced attorney to ensure the validity of your will.

If you only want to make small changes to your will, this can often be made through a codicil or an addendum. For more substantial changes, you will likely want to create a new will, especially if your state requires the same legal formalities for codicils and addendums as it does for a will.

A will that has provisions crossed out with handwritten changes or a will with a typed paragraph attached to it probably won’t stand up to legal scrutiny in most states. If someone has been “cut out” from the original will, this can lead to challenges in court and may create strife for all of the family members and loved ones involved.

For help creating or updating your will or other estate planning documents, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC at 708 482 7090 for our main office in LaGrange, Illinois or at 847 656 8958 for our Northbrook, Illinois office.