How do you legally update a Will?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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How do you legally update a Will?

I have a family member who had a Will made up 28 years ago. Since that time, this

person has been divorced. They have taken the old Will, marked out what they wanted to change, wrote in the changes, dated it, initialed it and signed it. Do the changes stand or would the old Will be binding?

Asked on February 22, 2017 under Estate Planning, Mississippi


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

There are 2 options when updating a Will: you can prepare and sign a new Will that revokes the earlier one, or you can prepare and sign a "codicil" to the earlier Will. A codicil is a separate document that amends (i.e. adds to or replaces one or more provisions in) an existing Will. The best approach will depend on the circumstances of your situation. For minor modificationss, a codicil might be best and for more extensive revisions drafting an new Will might be preferable. One thig is for certain, never try to change a Will by writing in the margins, crossing out words or lines of and exisiting Will. This can cause confusion and lead to conflicts.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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