Changing your will is not that difficult, but it needs to be done right in order to avoid problems later on down the road. Most importantly, during the drafting a new will, the old will must be revoked.

Revoking an old will is achieved by including a special statement within the new will, which specifically revokes any and all previously created wills and codicils. In addition to including this statement, it is smart to destroy previous wills. This will help avoid later challenges that could be brought against the new will, should an older, differing will be found by heirs.

There is another way of changing an existing will that involves adding a codicil to the document. A codicil is an addition or amendment to a will. Codicils are useful for adding new provisions to a will or revoking an existing provision. Codicils have to be signed, dated and witnessed in the same way that a legal will must be. At one time, codicils were a cost-effective and easy way to alter a will. However, these days most attorneys avoid them and prefer to redraft an entirely new will due to the fact that codicils are sometimes a source of confusion and may result in a will being challenged.

One important thing that all New York estate planners should remember about wills and other estate planning documents is that these documents should never be created and then forgotten about. Indeed, changing life circumstances often require a will to be revised. In order to avoid the chance of having a will that does not affect one’s current situation and estate planning wishes, it is advisable to review wills, assets and overall estate plans at least once every year to ensure that nothing needs to be changed.

Source: Findlaw, “Changing a will,” accessed June 24, 2015