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Changing a Will

irrevocable trust attorney oceanside ca

Updating a Will in Oceanside, CA

When a person experiences major life changes, updating a will in California is essential. If your financial position alters significantly due to changes through divorce, marriage, birth, adoption, or death, your old will may no longer represent your current wishes for the disposition of your estate. Failure to address these changes can convert it from an estate plan expressing your desires into one that works against them.

Wills are often revised to change an executor or guardian of minor children, update the beneficiaries, make specific gifts of property, or change names or addresses. It is highly recommended to keep your will up-to-date with the help of our skilled Oceanside estate planning lawyers at Century Trusts & Estate Planning, PC. to make sure you are not doing anything that will void your will.

This article discusses how to update, change, or amend a will in California. You have a few options depending on what you want to change. Based on the extent of the desired revisions, the will can either be amended or revoked, or a new one can be executed.

  • Create a Will Codicil
  • Make a Personal Property Memorandum
  • Write a New Will

Create a Will Codicil

A codicil is a separate legal document created as an amendment to a last will and testament. A codicil requires specific writing, as it must pertain to the exact provision in your will that you wish to amend. It contains modifications and clarifications to your existing will, including a new provision to add or anything you wish to revoke. 

Codicils should use clear and unmistakable language, which is why it is important to consult with our knowledgeable Oceanside CA estate planning attorney before making any changes.

This document allows you to make changes to your will without having to rewrite your original will document. In this circumstance, the original will and the codicil are still valid. Similar to the formalities required for a will to be valid, a codicil must be dated, signed, and witnessed. Codicils are often used to make minor alterations, including:

  • Updating beneficiaries (either adding new ones or removing existing ones)
  • Changing your personal representative or executor
  • Updating your guardian selection
  • Updating your gifts to a beneficiary (adding or removing gifts or changing the amount)

Make a Personal Property Memorandum

You may be able to update your will by simply replacing the personal property memorandum. A personal property memorandum is one of the most detailed ways to change your will. It is a separate document that attaches to your will just like a codicil. 

However, this option will only work if you initially included a memorandum when you created your original will. If you did not include one in the original document, you could not use one to change your will.

Having a personal property memorandum can avoid conflict between family members and loved ones. Instead of dividing everything equally amongst loved ones and forcing them to figure it out amongst themselves, giving specific instructions as to who receives which item can eliminate any hard feelings or tension during the probate process

You need to make sure that the memorandum is properly coordinated and accurately referenced in your will. If you are planning to create a personal property memorandum, our trusted Oceanside estate planning lawyer can help.

In most cases, you can use a personal property memorandum if you are leaving certain gifts, assets, or tangible personal property to a specific beneficiary which includes:

  • Art Collections
  • Silverware
  • Jewelry
  • Furniture
  • Household items
  • Vehicles

You cannot use it for real estate or intangible property such as:

  • Money
  • Bank accounts
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Intellectual property rights such as trademarks and copyrights.

Write a New Will

If you want to make substantial changes to your existing will, it’s often easiest to revoke your old will and write a new one. Your new will should explicitly state that it revokes all previous wills. If your final intentions change and you wish to create a new will, revoking your current will is a necessary step. Our qualified estate planning attorney in Oceanside CA can guide you if you have further questions about what voids a will.

By revoking an old will and replacing it with a new one, you can eliminate any potential confusion or anyone contesting the add-on. It should also include the date that it is signed and executed. You should consider dating and initialing each page at the corner to show that each one is authentic. Also, consider numbering the individual pages in your will to ensure that pages don’t disappear when it comes time for probate.

Call Our Seasoned Oceanside Estate Planning Lawyer Now!

As years go by, major changes in your life can affect your desires about how you want your property distributed. Your last will and testament should be revised as changes happen to your family and circumstances. If you don’t update your will, the probate court may end up undermining your actual wishes by applying old instructions to new circumstances.

If you want to change or update your current last will and testament, you need to make sure that it is done right. It is extremely crucial to use clear language that specifies what is changing and what is not, as well as which documents are being updated. 

Any update of a current will or revocation of previous wills should be done without errors to avoid confusion. Not properly destroying or revoking the first will can create problems when the will goes through the probate process. With the assistance of our experienced Oceanside estate planning attorney at Century Trusts & Estate Planning, PC, making changes to your will can be done quickly and with ease.

Our estate planning law firm can provide legal advice on whether you should create a codicil or a new will and can make sure that all of your legal documents are correctly executed and enforceable. We can review your estate plan with you to suggest necessary changes or corrections. 

We help people make important arrangements to protect their assets by creating a will, setting up a living trust, and dealing with various estate planning issues. Contact our law office now and schedule an initial consultation with our estate planning lawyers, who can guide you every step of the way to ensure that your final wishes are honored and carried out. We are dedicated to serving the larger San Diego area community. 


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