What should you do if you have a Last Will and Testament that you wish to change or revoke? One thing people frequently try to do when they want to revoke a Will is to simply write the words “Revoked” on the document; however, that may not accomplish what you intend it to – in fact, it may not accomplish anything. Understanding why you should never write on your Will is important.
Your Last Will and Testament typically serves as the foundation for a comprehensive estate plan. Like most legal documents, your Will should be reviewed and revised on a regular basis; however, this needs to be accomplished with the assistance of an attorney and any changes should always be witnessed. Your Will is not like many other legal documents where simply crossing something out and initialing the change will suffice. In fact, as a general rule, anything you write on your Will will likely be ignored should the issue end up in court – which it likely will. So why is it so important not to write on your Will?
Simple. Should someone question the authenticity of something your wrote on your Will you will no longer be here to respond to the accusations nor will you be here to clarify what you meant by whatever it was you wrote on the Will. This is precisely why the execution of your Last Will and Testament must be witnessed by an uninterested witness. Requiring a Will to be witnessed is the only way to be sure the Testator actually signed the document. If, however, you write on the document after the fact there is no sure way to determine if you actually wrote the words or if a third party took the liberty after your death. Writing “revoked” on your Will is, therefore, a sur fire way to land your estate in litigation as someone will certainly claim you did not intend to revoke your Will and that the writing on the document is not yours. If the court declares the Will to be revoked your estate may end up being handled as an intestate estate which could have very different results than if the Will is used to probate your estate.
If you do truly intend to change something in your Last Will and Testament, or even revoke it entirely, don’t try to do it yourself by writing on the Will. Take the time to consult with your estate planning attorney and make the changes or the revocation the right way, in front of witnesses, to ensure that your estate doesn’t wind up in costly litigation after your death.
If you have additional questions or concerns about wills, trusts, or estate planning in general, contact the experienced New York estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.