Life seems to change – constantly.  Frequently life changes (e.g., births, deaths, marriages, divorces, moves to new states) lead to desired changes in your Last Will and Testament (“Will”) or Revocable Trust (“Trust”).  For simplicity, people sometimes just want to make the changes on their own and hand write on their existing documents. But can you just pencil in the changes, initial, date, and sign yourself?  No!  You should never just scribble the desired changes on a Will or Trust in the margins or elsewhere. These are formal legal documents for changes to be effective adherence to legal formalities is required- no matter how minor the edit.

You can make changes, but you must do so properly under the law.  To change a Will, you sign a formal Codicil which meets the same witness and notary requirements under the law as a Will. To change a Trust, you sign a formal Amendment. In many instances, we often recommend executing a new Will or an Amended and Restated Trust to make any desired changes.

I know your still thinking, why can’t I just cross out what I no longer want and write over it with the new terms? Well, when the Will or Trust does not comply with all the required formalities, not only is it not effective to pass on a decedent’s property, this can also cost everyone involved more time and money in litigating in court what should happen and who should inherit.

There is a right way and wrong way to update your estate plan; handwriting changes is never the right way!

If your estate plan needs to be updated- protecting your family is only a phone call away. Call us at 480-922-1010 to schedule your complimentary estate planning consultation today.


-Stephanie A. Bivens, Esq., CELA