Change is a fact of life, and this applies to the estate plans that you make throughout your adult years. Your estate plan is also subject to modification as your assets, life situation, and goals change. Unfortunately, changing your estate plan is more complicated than simply scratching out a provision you want to change and writing in new terms. Nor does telling your executor what you want to be done differently make a change enforceable and recognized by the court.
Just as there is a right way and a wrong way to make an estate plan, there is a right way and a wrong way to change a will. Therefore, if your estate plan consists of a will wholly or partially, making sure you change that will the right way is crucial to having your new wishes and desires followed after you pass.
Why It Is Important to Change Your Will the Correct Way
When you set up a will in accordance with the law, your executor and the court will follow the provisions of that will unless they are illegal or impossible. This deference is only possible because the will is made according to the laws of Florida, which then presumes that the will accurately reflects your desires.
This presumption of validity does not extend to modifications of the will, though. A court cannot presume that the same person who made a will is the same person who modifies it unless those modifications are made in accordance with the law. For this reason, modifications will not be regarded as valid if you only:
- Verbally inform your executor or a beneficiary of your changes
- Write in additions, elections, or corrections on your will
- Create a list of modifications on a scratch piece of paper
- Try to destroy your will, as a beneficiary can always argue your original will is still valid and prove the terms of that will to the court
Fortunately, changing your will in Florida is not as daunting of a task as it may seem.
Two Ways to Change a Florida Will
There are two options available to you if you seek to change your will. The first way is to create a new will that reflects your updated wishes and desires. When done correctly, this overrides your previous will entirely and the new one will control. To be effective, the new will must be made in accordance with Florida requirements and it should specifically state it is overriding any previous wills you may have had.
The other way to modify a will is by creating a codicil. This changes a specific provision of your will while leaving other provisions intact. A codicil must be executed in the same way as a will in order to be effective. Just as a lawyer can help you make a will and execute it properly, an attorney’s help can ensure a codicil is legally enforceable.
Call a Professional Estate Planning Attorney Today
If you need to create an estate plan or will, or if you need to update an existing plan, do not leave anything to chance. Contact the Largo estate planning lawyers of Centonzio Law and make sure your changes are made the right way. You can reach us online or call our office at (727) 900-7290.