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How you can revoke a will

If you've drafted a will and it no longer applies, you can revoke it or change it. This is commonly done when there are big life changes, such as getting married, having a child or getting divorced. The process to revoke the will is very straightforward, but it's important to know how to do it properly and legally so that there is no confusion when you pass away.

First, you need to get the physical copy of the will that you have and destroy it. You can tear it up with your hands, run it through a paper shredder, burn it or destroy it by some other means. As long as the destruction is intentional and complete, that will is gone.

You can also have someone else, like a lawyer or a family member, destroy it for you.

One important thing to note is that improper or incomplete destruction may not hold up in court. For example, if you take a marker and draw an X over a few pages of your will, intending to keep the rest, those pages may not count as destroyed and may not be removed from the will. Therefore, it's better to completely destroy the document.

Another option is to make a brand new will and put in a few lines about how it takes precedence and legally revokes any other wills that were made. If you've lost a will, for example, and you're worried that it could turn up, this is one way to revoke it without destroying it.

If you're planning to revoke a will in New York, remember that it can have a huge impact on both your estate and your family, and be sure you do it properly.

Source: FindLaw, "How to Revoke a Will," accessed Jan. 29, 2016

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