Are changes that are initialed and dated on a written Will valid?

My husband and I have been married 30 years. I am 66 and he is 69. He has made numerous changes to his will by making hand-written notations on the original will, initialing them and dating them. We have not made it to the attorney yet because he had been tied up and has not been able to meet with us; also we are 100 miles away. I am anxious about this and he isn’t because he feels that if something were to happen to him the changes would stand up since he has initialed and dated them. I disagree with him and have told him I don’t think the changes mean a thing until they have at least been witnessed and notarized.Could you please advise me on this?

Asked on July 20, 2014 under Estate Planning, South Dakota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

 No changes like the ones you describe would almost certainly NOT be valid. Not only must the original will be properly signed, notarized, and witnessed, but any and every change to it, no matter when made, must also be signed, notarized, and witnessed in the same fashion. You are adivsed to consult with an attorney, who can not only draw up a new or revised will where all the terms are clear and readily understanable (since a court will not enforce any terms which it cannot understand), but who will also make sure the will is executed properly.

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