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Can I Change My Will?


People in Putnam County and Westchester County make wills at various stages in their lives. Often, when people get married or have a child, they will create a will in order to ensure that a spouse receives certain property, or to name a person to care for their child in the event of an unexpected accident or death. Anyone aged 18 and older who is “of sound mind and memory” is permitted to make a will under New York law. Given that people often make wills when they are younger and experience life changes, or have sudden changes of circumstance occur, the need often arises to change a will. Sometimes a person will want to amend a will following a divorce, or after a family estrangement occurs. At other points in time, a person who has made a will simply might change their mind about the terms and may want to leave certain assets to a different heir.

No matter what the reason may be, it is important to know that there are ways to change your will. In order to change your will, you should seek advice from an experienced Mahopac or Pleasantville estate planning lawyer who can help. In the meantime, consider the following information about amending and revising an existing will.

Create a Codicil to Your Will

If you want to make one change to the terms of your will, or a couple of changes, you may be able to create a codicil to your will rather than revoking the will entirely (a process that we will explain below). According to New York Estates Powers & Trusts Law, a codicil is a supplement to a person’s will that can add to the will, take something away from the will, or otherwise alter a provision in the will without completely revoking the will. In other words, you can change part of your will through a codicil while leaving the rest of the will intact.

Generally speaking, it is not common to create a codicil to your will. In most cases, you will be able to quickly revoke your existing will with assistance from your estate planning lawyer and create a new will that will meet the requirements for validity under New York law.

Revoking Your Will

In most circumstances, if you want to change your will, you will revoke the will and then create a new will. There are three general ways that New York law recognizes as revoking a will:

  • Writing a new will and executing it, being sure to follow all requirements for a valid will under New York law (the most recently dated will ultimately will be the valid document during probate);
  • Indicate in writing that you want to revoke your will; and/or
  • Destroy the physical will, or give another person instructions to physically destroy your will, in front of two witnesses.

In order to revoke a will, you must have the mental capacity to do so according to New York law. To be clear, in order to revoke a will, you must meet the same requirements for executing a will in the first place: you must be at least 18 years old, and you must be “of sound mind and memory.”

Once you revoke a will, regardless of whether you do so by creating a new will, it is important to work with a lawyer to execute a new and valid will.

Contact a Wills Attorney in Mahopac and Pleasantville

If you need assistance revoking a will or making a revision to your will, you should seek advice from one of the wills lawyers at Meyer & Spencer, PC today.



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