How To Change Your Last Will & Testament

Contrary to popular belief, it actually isn’t too hard to make changes or completely change your last will and testament. It may be a little inconvenient, but you can modify or even revoke your last will and testament whenever you see fit.

A few ways to do so includes:

How to Change Your Last Will and Testament

Before anything else, it’s important to note that you have to comply with the laws regarding last wills and testaments in your state so your legal document won’t be thrown out as invalid.  [1] Just a matter of making modifications in your own handwriting can make your changes completely inadmissible.

Make a Codicil

To make minor changes to your will, you can use codicils. If one of your beneficiaries had a legal name change or you want to have someone else as the executor, go with codicil.

This legal document is a secondary one attached to your last will. It outlines the detail you want to change. The majority of the states hold codicils to the same standard as wills. If you required to have two witnesses present at the signing of your will, you’ll have to do the same as you sign your codicil.

Replace the personal property memorandum

The personal property memorandum, like the codicil, is a secondary legal document attached to your original will. Of course, you can only replace it if you included one, to begin with.

If you want to leave specific assets to specific beneficiaries rather than leaving each a percentage, you typically will have a personal property memorandum. Say you sold a particular asset or want to leave it with someone else. In this case, you can simply write up a new personal property memorandum and remove the old.

Unlike codicil, a memorandum usually does not require a signature or witnesses. However, it has to be referred to in your original will. This explains why you have to have a personal property memorandum in the first place if you want to replace it. Otherwise, you may have to completely change your last will and testament.

Write a completely new document

If you want to make major changes to your will, it’s often easier to simply revoke the entire thing and write a new one. It may even be just as convenient as a codicil, seeing as codicils are often held to the same standards. It’s the safer option to take if you want to make several changes or substantive ones.

If you have not yet written up your will according to the law, your old one may be used instead. Since you obviously want your new one to be honored, it’s crucial that you comply with all legal requirements. You should also state specifically in your new will that you want all your old wills to be disregarded. If you have made several, mention them each by date and get rid of them.

Every state has different requirements when it comes to the destruction of wills.  Some simply require you to write “revoked” on each page and sign it. In particular, make sure you do it properly. A legal document cannot be followed if it no longer exists, and your witnesses will be able to testify on your behalf if necessary. This will ensure to honor your most recent will and testament.


Looking to update your will? Create a new legal will with The Free Will Kit. Click below to learn more.


1. Fry, Barry (2012). "Cross Border Estate Issues" (PDF). Advoc. Retrieved 7 June 2017.


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