Amend a Will Without a Lawyer

“Codicil” is the legal term used for amending a will without a lawyer. You don’t need the help of a lawyer for this purpose no matter in which part of the United States you live. But the formalities for writing a codicil must be kept in mind. The codicil must be signed by the writer and two witnesses.

Step by Step Guide

Step 1.

You need to show that you know what you are going to do as you write the codicil. For example you can start as “I (your name), on this day (date), in (location), do hereby amend my last will and testimony as follows.” Now write about the changes you wish to make to your will. Having mental clarity is very important for the writer and he must know what he is about to do.

Step 2.

When you are done, sign the codicil. There are many states in the United States which require the testator to sign the codicil or required the testator to tell someone to sign it for you. Having the codicil signed by witnesses is enough in some states but still it is good to sign the codicil.

Step 3.

When you are done, have codicil signed by two witnesses. In some states you are not required to have the codicil signed by two witnesses, if all material portions of the codicil are handwritten. But still having the codicil signed by two adult witnesses is good practice. The two witnesses could testify that the writer knew what he was doing. Each of the 2 adult witnesses must witness the writer’s acknowledgement of his signature on the codicil. The writer of testator can use these words “This is a codicil to my will. This is my signature. Please sign your name here.”

Tips and Warnings

  • Keep the codicil in a safe place. There is no need to share the codicil with anyone and you need to keep it somewhere your heirs will be sure to find it. Never cut or mark the pages. The codicil is completely useless if your heirs are unable to find it.

  • In some states law requires witnesses. In that situation the law requires the writer declare to all of them at the same time that the document is his codicil. This is the best way to keep things simple, easy and fair. If any witness receives a gift under it, the state law might invalidate the whole codicil. Some states only invalidate the gift to that lone witness.