The Perils and Pitfalls of Amending Your Will

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Perhaps you signed your Will years ago and need to make a few adjustments. It seems simple, so you decide to go about amending your Will on your own. Unfortunately, Wills are not really do-it-yourself projects. Incorrectly amending your Will can lead to trouble after you have passed away. But you still need to make those changes. What should you do to avoid creating future headaches for your loved ones?

Let’s start by looking at how not to change your Will.

Things to Avoid When Amending Your Will

Never cross through provisions of your Will and replace them with handwritten notes. In fact, Florida does not even recognize handwritten Wills unless they have been formally signed and witnessed.

Also, writing notes in the margin of your original Will may put your heirs through a Will contest. Because you did not follow the formalities required for amending your Will, those handwritten doodles will be up for interpretation. What you thought was clearly stated may be misunderstood. Your heirs may have to ask a judge to interpret your notes.

Amending Your Will: Best Practices

Make sure that you really want to make changes to your Will. For example, if you are disinheriting someone because of an argument, is there a chance you will reconcile?

Consider creating a codicil then attaching it to your original Will. A codicil may be an easy way to make changes or additions to what is one of the most important documents you will ever sign. However, according to Florida law, your codicil must be executed just like your Will:

  • You will sign at the end of the codicil,
  • You must have two witnesses who observe you signing the Will, and
  • Your two witnesses must also observe each other signing the Will.

Another option for changing bequests of property is to write a personal property memorandum. However, your Will must mention that you are attaching this type of memorandum to your Will.

If you need to make substantial changes to your Will, talk to your attorney. Writing a completely new Will may be in your best interests.

Avoid the Perils and Pitfalls of Amending Your Will

Something as important as your Last Will and Testament should not be left to chance. To make sure your Will truly reflects your last wishes, consult with an experienced Florida estate planning lawyer.

As an attorney who is board certified in Wills, Trusts & Estates, Attorney John Mangan offers effective estate planning to his clients. To schedule an appointment, call us at 772-324-9050 or fill out our Contact Form. Our office is conveniently located in Palm City, Florida.