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Revoking a will: an overview

Torrance Probate and Estate Planning Attorney

Revoking a will: an overview

While it would be preferable to only ever have to make one will, significant life changes often require us to regularly change or amend our wills. There are a range of different reasons you might need to revoke or amend a will in order for it to accurately reflect how you want your property to be disposed of at death. Therefore, it is important to understand both how you can revoke your will and why you might want to.

Revoking a will

One way to revoke a will is to simply destroy it. This could mean include anything from burning to shredding the will, so long as there is an intent to actually destroy the document. Moreover, you are also able to direct someone to destroy it on your behalf, so an attorney or family member could destroy it as well.

Another way to revoke a will is by creating a new will. The new will must be properly executed and specifically include language that expresses the intent to revoke all prior wills.

A last way to revoke a will is through codicils. A codicil is a legal document that allows the testator to revoke or amend a will in part, instead of revoking the entire will. This is often preferable to creating an entirely new will, especially if there is only one thing that you wish to change.

Reasons to revoke or amend a will

Marriage is one common reason you may need to revoke a will because a will made prior to the marriage may not leave anything to your new spouse. Likewise, you will likely want to revoke a will after a divorce, as most people no longer wish to leave their ex-spouse a significant portion of their assets.

Welcoming a new child into your family is another reason to change your will. Whether it be the birth of a baby, or adoption of a stepchild it is likely that you will want to leave them some portion of your assets.

Alternatively, you may simply change your mind about how you wish to dispose of your property. There need not be a reason for the change in heart. It is your property and you are able to distribute it however you want, though you must ensure that your will accurately reflects these changes. The failure to successfully revoke or amend a will may result in confusion or costly litigation amongst your beneficiaries. An experienced attorney will be able to assist you with all aspects of estate planning.