In this Elder Law Minute, Wes Coulson explains how making your own changes to your will (e.g. crossing someone out) doesn’t make it valid without legalized approval.
Hi! I’m Wes Coulson from Dent-Coulson Elder Law, proudly serving clients throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area and beyond. I’d like to welcome you to our Elder Law and Estate Planning Minute. We do these to help educate people, give them some little tips, and especially to let them know the questions they need to ask, things that they’ve maybe not thought of. Our thought on that is that we can help you best if you realize the things that you need help and that we can help you with. So I hope you enjoy. Thanks!
We talk a lot in these videos about the right way to go about things, so I thought I would change it up this time and let’s talk about the wrong way to do something. In this case, the wrong way to make changes to your will. Some people think that it’s a good idea that, if you want to make changes, if somebody’s last name has changed, or you want to name somebody else as an executor, or add somebody else as a beneficiary, that it’s easy. Just scratch out the parts that you don’t like anymore, write in the parts that you like, that you want to add or change, and initial it.
Well, let me tell you, that doesn’t work. In fact, what you have done is you have invalidated your entire will in the process. Here’s why. Wills have witnessing requirements, by the way this is also true of a lot of other legal documents; either it takes witnesses, or a notary, or both. Well, when you’ve scratched out, and crossed in, that hasn’t been witnessed, or notarized, whatever happens to be required. So it’s not consistent with the law.
Scratching out is definitely not allowed. If you will, if scratching out were okay, I could be one of somebody’s five beneficiaries under their will, see the will, and just scratch out the other four, now I get everything. So, scratching out, nobody knows who might’ve done that. So, pretty simple here, if you want to make changes to a will, you just need to see an estate planning, or elder law attorney, to help you get that done the right way. Thanks!
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