How do I amend a last will & testament?

The law provides you with various ways in which your property will be divided after you die. One way is by creating a last will and testament (otherwise known as a "will"). The will states to whom your property will be distributed to upon your death in a written document that you have signed and approved. If you desire to amend your last will and testament, you have two options: making a codicil or a making a new will.


A codicil permits you to amend your last will and testament without having to make an entirely new will. The law defines a codicil as a written amendment to a previously made will. It gives you the opportunity to add something to your will, take out something from your will or modify a provision in your will. Thus if you made a will that gave your house to your wife after you died, you can then make a codicil changing this provision to give your house to your child or someone else. To make a codicil you would need to have a written document that makes some mention of the will you are changing and should also mention that the prior will is still valid but is simply being amended. A valid codicil requires that you also sign and date it in the presence of witnesses (just as you would a regular will). The codicil becomes a part of the will after it is completed, and upon your death both your will and the codicil will form the basis upon which your property will be divided.

New Will

The law permits you to also amend your prior will and testament by simply making another brand new will. A new will changes a prior will by revoking it and then creating a new will that replaces the prior will. You make a new will in the same way that you would any other will except that when you wish to amend your prior will through revocation you would include in your new will a statement that says "I revoke all wills and codicils that I have previously made." Destroy your old will and any copies when your done with making your new will. This destruction is recommended because if your old will is still in existence someone who receives a gift under the old will may attempt to enforce it.

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About the Author

Jorge Pena is a freelance writer who lives in Southern California. Pena graduated from the University of La Verne College of Law with a Juris Doctor degree and is a graduate of the University of California Irvine where he obtained a Bachelors in Arts degree in political science. He has been a Demand Studios writer for less than a year.

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