Watch Our Nursing Home Masterclass

How Do You Amend a Will or a Trust?

What to Do Before Naming a Family Member or Friend As a Trustee
Wills and trusts are typically changed over time as life circumstances, the state where you reside, or your desired outcomes change.

It’s the rare person who puts their estate plan together once and never needs to change some part of it. What is important is to understand how do you amend a will or a trust so that these changes are enforceable and your wishes are followed. A recent article from Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls Press, “Amendments to your estate planning documents require certain steps,” explains how an estate planning attorney ensures that your requested changes are made properly.

All too often, people come to their estate planning attorney’s office with handwritten edits and changes to the original language, thinking their notes and a signature or their initials will make the changes legitimate. This is never a good idea.

People also arrive at their attorney’s offices with handwritten addendums written on the front or back of a will or trust document, attached by a staple or paper clip after the original document has been signed. This doesn’t work either.

These approaches create problems because they don’t meet state requirements for a legally valid amendment to a will or trust.

There are two ways to make legally enforceable changes to a will. One is replacing the prior document with an entirely new will document. This new will must explicitly state in the document that all prior wills are revoked and replaced.

The second is to add a document known as a codicil to the old will to clarify exactly which part of the old document is being changed. It typically reaffirms the unchanged other terms of the old will document.

Legally enforceable changes to trusts are similarly done in one of two ways. The first is to replace the prior trust document with an entirely new trust document, although the name and creation date of the trust must remain the same and must state explicitly this is not a revocation of the trust. This is referred to as a trust restatement.

The second way to change a trust is using a trust amendment, which is similar to a codicil of a will. A trust amendment is a new document added to the existing trust document. It states which parts of the original trust document are being changed.

It’s important to speak with a local estate planning attorney about making changes to wills or trusts because each state has its own technical requirements for a will codicil or trust amendment/restatement, which must be followed so the changes will be legally effective.

Just writing on the existing pages of a will or trust never meets the requirements but certainly ensures that there will be major post-death disputes among family members and interested parties. An estate planning attorney can help to amend your will or trust, whether they are large or small. Current clients of Beck, Lenox & Stolzer who need this assistance should call our office directly to schedule an appointment. A prospective client can click here to schedule a free phone consultation, and if needed, a follow-up office consultation, also free.

Reference: Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls Press (Oct. 25, 2023) “Amendments to your estate planning documents require certain steps”

Subscribe to Our Free Monthly E-Newsletter & Blog Digest!

Categories/Topics
Recent Posts

Need to Email Us?

If we are currently working with you or your family member, please DO NOT use this email as it may take longer to route your inquiry to the specific person working on your file. Instead, please call our office at (636) 946-7899 so we may better serve you

For all other inquiries: