Clients frequently inquire about changing their wills after significant events in their lives such as marriage, birth of a child or death of a beneficiary.
A person can change their will as long as they possess “testamentary capacity,” a legal term that means that they have a general understanding of three things: what their assets are, who society would consider the natural objects of their bounty and what their will provides.
You should not attempt to change a will by making notes in the margins of a previously signed and witnessed will as any such changes will not be effective. Also, any notes or memos attached to a will will not be valid unless they have been signed with the same legal formalities as a will.
An existing will can be amended by signing a codicil (an amendment) to the will or by signing a new will, which revokes the prior will. In both cases, the codicil or the new will must be executed with the same legal formalities, i.e., signed before two witnesses.
An attorney can help you decide whether a codicil to a will or new will is appropriate in your circumstances.