A well-drafted estate plan should represent your wishes at the time you and your lawyer executed it. However, life can throw a lot of changes at you, and you may find that after a few years your plan no longer reflects your wishes.

With wills and other estate planning documents, it is important to remember that there are laws governing how they can be changed. Knowing how to revoke or alter a will requires legal assistance.

The person who creates their own will is known as the testator. A testator can revoke or alter a will by creating another will. They can also clearly indicate in writing an intention to revoke or alter the will while adhering to the legal requirements. To revoke a will, the person can tear, cut, burn, cancel, obliterate or mutilate it. This can be done by the testator or by another person who was in the testator’s presence and did so at the direction of the testator. The act must be seen by two witnesses, neither of whom committed the act to revoke the document.

The will can also be altered or revoked if there is a holographic or nuncupative declaration to do so. A holographic will is done in writing. For the document to be valid, it must be in the testator’s handwriting, signed and witnessed by two people. An agent can also write the will to take the place of a previous will, but there must be two witnesses in addition to the person who wrote it for the testator. With a nuncupative will, it is dictated orally. The requirements are the same as for a holographic will.

An estate plan is considered final when it is completed, but circumstances can change. People often need to draft a new estate plan after divorce, remarriage, the birth of a new child, deaths in the family and other major changes.

A law firm that has helped many people with all areas of their estate planning needs can guide a person through this process. Calling for advice is essential to have a legally altered or revoked will.