If you have made a will—great! Now, don’t forget to periodically review it. In addition to making sure it still reflects your assets and intentions, you may note errors that you previously did not spot. If corrections or changes are needed, it is important to follow the appropriate protocols, to avoid confusion and delay in the probate proceedings when you die.
Step By Step
Upon your death, the executor you have named when preparing your will typically initiates the probate process. Generally, this involves filing your death certificate and the will in probate court. Most of the time, probate courts accept the validity of wills. Legally, what matters most is how the will was created, signed and witnessed, as well as mental capacity at the time of signing. Multiple versions of wills, or codicil (updates made after signing) can of course cause confusion—and even result in a court decision to revert to state intestacy law. It’s a good idea to give your will and associated documents an annual check-up. If you do find errors in need of correction, or decide to make changes, you’ll find this advice from Legal Beagle helpful:
Correction by Codicil
A codicil is a change or correction to a will that is made on a separate piece of paper and attached to the will. Codicils are typically used to change relatively small portions of the will, such as to replace one beneficiary with another, to change the amount of assets each beneficiary gets, or to correct errors in spelling, arithmetic or grammar…. A codicil must be signed and witnessed just like the will itself, and the same rules apply in most states to the witnesses of a codicil that apply to the witnesses of the will….
Correction by Revocation
If your will requires significant corrections or corrections on multiple pages, you may wish to revoke the entire will and start over with a new will. When making your new will, make sure it covers all the property, people and issues you wish to be addressed at your death. You may wish to consult an attorney when you make the will to ensure that your bases are covered and the law is fulfilled. Sign your new will and write the date on it so that it is clear it is newer than your previous will. Also, have your new will witnessed and notarized, if necessary, according to state law. Finally, when your new will is valid and complete, finish revoking your former will by destroying it completely. Shredding and burning are two ways to destroy your former will that are recognized by most states….
Prepare Your Executor
Of course you need to keep your designated executor informed about any changes to your will. Don’t forget to share practical information about the location of related documents and information that will most definitely curtail stress when the time comes. Once your will has been accepted in probate court, your executor will be given a letter of testamentary, officially enabling them to begin taking actions on behalf of your estate. Keep in mind that probate courts sometimes request executors to obtain a type of fiduciary bond known as an executor or estate bond. That’s because executors have a fiduciary obligation to act in the best interests of the estate and beneficiaries, avoiding conflicts of interest. Let Colonial Surety Company, a leading national fiduciary bond provider, help. At Colonial, the steps to obtaining executor and other bonds are quick and easy: get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter the payment method. Instantly print or e-file the bond right from anywhere—even probate court.
Scribbling In Corrections?
It’s not a good idea to make “tiny” corrections by scribbling on the will itself. As legal experts explain:
For very small corrections, it may be tempting to simply scribble out the mistake in your will and write in the correct information in the margin. However, you should not make any markings on your will before consulting an attorney. In most states, even a small correction like fixing the spelling of someone’s name, must be witnessed properly in order for the correction to be valid. If you do not make your corrective markings according to your state’s law for changing a will, the probate court may ignore your correction and distribute your property according to the original will….
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