Can a change to a Will be made manually and initialed by the testator?

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Can a change to a Will be made manually and initialed by the testator?

My parents, age 90 and 85, are each other’s executor with my sister, who just died as contingent (i.e. second) executor. I realize this will not be an issue until my second parent passes but my father wants to changes their Wills manually by crossing out my sister’s name adding my brother’s name and initialling the change. Would this be legal for the maker of the Will to do?

Asked on August 15, 2011 Delaware

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The suggested editing of the existing wills of your parents where an alternate executor would be added in place of your deceased sister by crossing out the sister's name and adding your brother's name in her place and being initialled by your parents does not legally place your brother as the alternate executor of their wills.

What needs to be done is a date to the change and at least two (2) disinterested witnesses to the change as well by your parents in addition to the crossing out and adding of your brother's name where the will has new signatures added by your parents and the witnesses.

I suggest a simple type written addendum to your parents' wills where your brother is now named as the alternative executor where the addendum references the date of the prior will. This addedndum needs to be dated and signed by your parents as well as two (2) disinterested witnesses.

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, it would not so please do not let them do this.  Changes to a Will that are handwritten by crossing out the portion of the Will they wish to change could invalidate the Will.  They could just ask an attorney to prepare a codicil to the Will which is a legal addendum changing only that portion that they wish - naming a contingent executor.  A Codicil needs to be executed in the same manner and with the same degree of decorum as a Will so sometimes the time may be ripe to review the old Will and make the changes that they wish overall (Like naming your sister's children directly to inherit if this applies, etc.).  If cost is a factor and there are no legal issues that would change the outcome now that your sister has died then the codicil may be cheaper and faster.  Good luck to you.  


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