Can You Make a Short-Term Change to a Will?

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People usually make changes to their wills when their relationship with their heirs have changed, when they get divorced, or when a spouse dies. People also change their wills when they do a regular review, which should be done every three or four years. However, most people make changes that are permanent, says nwi.com in the article “Temporarily changing a will.”

There are three ways to change a will, none of which are temporary.

The first is to fully revoke the will. This can be done by executing a revocation or by physically destroying it by tearing it up or shredding it. If you revoked the will in full, you’ve changed it because it no longer exists or is no longer valid. However, that’s not temporary.

Another way to change a will, and the one that most people use, is by executing a new will. A new will should include language that states that all prior wills and codicils (i.e., amendments) are revoked, and the new will is the only valid one. By executing a new will, you’ve changed the original will by revoking it. Again, this is not a temporary change. It’s permanent at least until you execute a new will or revoke the will by destroying it.

The third way to change a will is to execute an amendment to the will. This amendment to the will is known as a “codicil.” By executing a codicil, an existing will is still valid, except for the portions in the will that are addressed by the codicil.

These are the most common ways to change a will. However, none of them is temporary. Anything that is done to change the will has a lasting effect, not a temporary one.

If the will is physically revoked, it no longer exists. If a new will is executed, the old one is revoked. And if you revoke the subsequent will, the original does not necessarily become valid again.

There is a line of cases that say if a subsequent will turns out to be invalid, the prior one remains valid. The reasoning here is that the original will was never revoked in the first place because the revocation failed. However, if the subsequent will was revoked rather than failed because it was invalid, that would not be the case.

You might execute a codicil amending the will, and then revoke the codicil, but that may not work depending on other facts and circumstances.

A temporary revocation may not be an option, or it may be a bad one. An estate planning attorney can help to clarify your reasoning for seeking a temporary change to your estate plan and find out how it might be accomplished.

Reference: nwi.com (Sep. 8, 2019) “Temporarily changing a will.”

 

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