Once you write a last will and testament, you may think you have finished planning. However, you must keep wills up-to-date, or they are worse than useless. A will that contains false or conflicting information can do more than confuse others. An incorrect will can bring family members into strife with each other. Stay prepared for the future by keeping your will current. Learn about changing a will to make the corrections you need. 

Changing a Will with a Codicil

You may need to change your will because of a marriage, divorce, a new baby, a death in the family, or a disagreement. These types of changes sometimes mean that you should rewrite your will. However, you can use a codicil to amend your will if you merely want to change an executor or revoke a paragraph. Making a codicil to your will can legally change the terms of your will.  A codicil is merely an amendment or addition to your existing will. 

Minor changes to a will are not as difficult as you might think. You can also consult with your estate planning attorney to ensure the language is exact and that the language of the codicil reflects your intentions. An example codicil is an excellent place to start. Below is an example of a codicil written by Duke University Law School Justice Clinic.

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STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA COUNTY OF _______________ CODICIL 

I, ________________________, of the County of _________, State of North Carolina, declare 

this to be the First Codicil to the Last Will and Testament executed by me on the ____ day of _____, 20__. 

I hereby revoke Paragraph ___of Article ____ of my said Will. 

I hereby revoke Paragraph ___ and ___ of Article _______ of my said Will and in lieu thereof, I substitute the following: 

Appointment of Trustee. I nominate, constitute, and appoint ___________________, as 

Trustee of any and all trusts created hereunder. I further direct that my Trustee shall be compensated for her services at her normal, reasonable rate existing at the time of my death.

Appointment of Executor/ix. I nominate, constitute, and appoint _________________ as executrix of this my Last Will and Testament. If my said Executrix shall predecease me or fail to qualify, or, if having qualified, should die, resign, or become incapacitated during the administration of my estate, or cease to act as Executrix hereunder for any reason whatsoever,  then I nominate, constitute, and appoint _________________________, as successor Executrix, to serve in the place and stead of my said Executrix. I further direct that my successor Executrix shall be compensated for her services as successor Executrix at her normal, reasonable rate existing at the time of my death. 

In all other respects, I hereby ratify and confirm all of the provisions of my said Last Will and Testament dated the ____ day of _____, 20__. 

I, [Testor’s name] , the testator, sign my name to this instrument this ________ day of  _____________________, 20___, and being first duly sworn, do hereby declare to the undersigned authority that I sign and execute this instrument as my last will and that I sign it willingly (or willingly direct another to sign for me), that I execute it as my free and voluntary act for the purposes therein expressed, and that I am eighteen years of age or older, of sound mind, and under no constraint or undue influence.

 ____________________________ [Testor’s name] 

 

We, ___________________________, and _________________________, the witnesses, sign our names to this instrument, being first duly sworn, and do hereby declare to the undersigned authority that the testator signs or places her/his mark before me and executes this instrument as her/his last will and that she/he signs it willingly (or willingly directs another to sign for her/him), and that each of us, in the presence and hearing of the testator, hereby signs this will as witness to the testator’s signing, and to the best of our knowledge, the testator is eighteen years of age or older, of sound mind, and under no constraint or undue influence. 

_______________________________ WITNESS 

_______________________________ WITNESS 

 

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA COUNTY OF ______________________ Subscribed, sworn to and acknowledged before me by [Testor’s name], the testator, and subscribed and sworn to  before me by witnesses, ______________________, and ____________________,  this______day of ____________________,[current year]. ____________________________ 

 

Notary Public (SEAL) My Commission expires:___________ 

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Change Your Will By Writing a New One

Often, a codicil or addendum is not the best answer for a significant change in your plans. If your will is more than five years old, you may do better to work with your estate planning attorney to write a new one. Laws change, and different strategies may work better to optimize your estate planning strategy. 

You may decide that you would like to revoke or cancel your Last Will. You can do that by writing and signing a new will. Alternatively, you may destroy your will in front of another person as a witness. Destroying your physical will in front of a witness is an act that revokes your will.

You may also need a new will if you have multiple codicils. Writing one codicil to change the executor of your estate makes sense. However, if one of your heirs passes away and another heir has a new baby you’d like to include, you may want to rework your estate plan with a new will. 

When writing a new will, you’ll need two witnesses to sign, but there is no requirement for notary services. You can also write a handwritten will, but working with an attorney who understands how the law works will help your heirs inherit according to your wishes. 

We Can Help

Regardless of why you need to change or rewrite your will, we are here to help. Our experienced estate planning attorneys work with you to make a will that reflects your wishes for the future. Our up-to-date knowledge of North Carolina Law gives you the best strategies to optimize your wealth for future generations and leave a legacy that your family will feel grateful for. Contact us today and find out how we can help you plan for your future and that of your family.