Can I Make Changes to my Will or Trust?

changes to will and trust

Our lives can at times undergo significant changes, whether through our own means or by events we can’t control. When important events happen, it’s crucial to account for them in your estate plan by updating your will or trust to reflect the changes in your life. While the maintenance of keeping your estate plan up to date may seem daunting, an out-of-date plan has the potential to do more harm than good.

Making changes to an already established will depends on the extent of the change. If the change needed is to remove only part of the will, revoking only that part is sufficient, and no further action is required. However, if the change is to add to your existing will, there are two options: a codicil or the creation of a new will. A codicil is an amendment to your existing will, which allows you to add new features that did not previously exist, or revoke a specific part of it without removing that part entirely. However, adding a codicil to your will carries the same requirements as drafting an original will. Because codicils can cause complications in the execution of your will by means of conflicting information, and it comes with the same requirements as drafting a new will, it’s recommended to create an entirely new will instead of making amendments to your existing one. 

In order to make a change to a trust, it’s first required that the trust be revocable, commonly referred to as a “living trust”. Keep in mind that most revocable trusts are written specifically to allow the inclusion of additional property, so if your only goal in making changes to your trust is to include newly gained assets, an amendment may not be necessary. The process is somewhat similar to changing a will, in that you’re able to create amendments to the trust. We suggest you always create amendments in coordination with an experienced estate planning attorney.  In order for the amendment to be legally valid, you must notarize that amendment and then attach it to the trust. Whether or not to make an amendment or restate the entire trust is a decision that should be made on a case-by-case basis depending on the complexity of the changes to the trust.  In some cases, it can be just as easy to restate the entire trust as it is to make an amendment.

At Harbor Law Firm, we make it as easy as possible to update your will or trust. Our up-front, one-time fee ensures that you know what you’re paying beforehand, and our in-house process means that creating a will or trust is as simple as possible. To get started with your estate planning, or make updates to an existing will or trust, please call us today at (888) 335-2815 or fill out our form for a free consultation.


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