How t legally update a Will?

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How t legally update a Will?

I work in long term care. One of my residents has a Will and wanted to add an addendum to leave a gift for an in-law. Would it be correct that I could type up her written notes, and she could take it to our inhouse notary to notarize, and attach the addendum to her old will? Or does she need to take it back to her attorney (who is now retired)?

Asked on November 14, 2012 under Estate Planning, Washington

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

An addendum such as you suggest is called a "codicil". It is approriate to use if just a minor change is contemplated, such as you have here. There are certain legal formalities that need to be followed and they vary from state-to-state (i.e. how many witnesses are needed) although typically codicils do not need to be notarized.

However, if her Will was executed some years ago it would be a good idea to get a new one written at this time. There may have been other changes in this resident's personal affairs or the law that need to be addressed.

Certainly she could use an attorney for this or, if money is an issue, she could use an on-line form and/or use an on-line form and have it reviewed by an attorney. This last option is a cheaper alternative to having a lawyer draft a new Will yet she could have peace of mind knowing for certain that all legal requirements have been met so that her estate will be distributed according to her wishes.

If she meets income requirements, your resident may be eligible for free/low cost assistance from Legal Aid, a law school clinic (if one is located nearby), or the county bar association which keeps lists of attorneys that handle such cases. 


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