Amending a Will

As an estate planning attorney in Folsom, I work with many clients who are looking to make changes to their will. Amending a will is a common practice when individuals want to make changes to their estate plans. Wills can be amended through a legal process known as a “codicil” or by creating a completely new will. Here’s how to amend a will:

Option 1: Create a Codicil (Amendment to the Will)

  1. Review the Existing Will: Carefully review your current will to determine the specific provisions you want to amend. Consider any changes in your circumstances or wishes that necessitate these amendments.
  2. Consult an Attorney: It’s advisable to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. They can provide guidance, ensure that the changes comply with state laws, and help you create a codicil that is legally valid.
  3. Draft a Codicil: With your attorney’s assistance, draft a codicil, which is a separate legal document that outlines the specific changes you want to make to the existing will.
  4. Include the Changes: Clearly state the changes in the codicil. This may involve adding or removing beneficiaries, changing the distribution of assets, appointing new executors, or modifying other terms of the will.
  5. Execution of the Codicil: The codicil must be executed with the same formalities as the original will. Typically, this involves the following steps:
    • Signing the codicil.
    • Have any required witnesses (the number and qualifications may vary by state) sign the codicil. In California, two witnesses are required for the execution of a will and also for the codicil, and it is generally recommended to have disinterested witnesses. 
    • The notary public will acknowledge the signatures with their seal and signature.
  6. Attach the Codicil: Once the codicil is signed and notarized, it should be attached to the original will. Keeping both documents together ensures that your updated wishes are easily accessible and clear.
  7. Notify Relevant Parties: If your will involves other beneficiaries, executors, or trustees, it’s a good practice to inform them of the codicil to prevent any surprises or confusion in the future.

Option 2: Create a New Will

  1. Review and Revise: Carefully review your existing will to identify the provisions you want to change. Consider any new wishes or changes in your circumstances.
  2. Consult an Attorney: As stated above, you should work with an estate planning attorney to draft a new will that incorporates the changes you desire. This new will should be comprehensive and address all aspects of your estate plan.
  3. Revoke the Old Will: Clearly state in the new will that it revokes all prior wills and codicils. This revocation ensures that the new will takes precedence over any previous documents.
  4. Execution of the New Will: Execute the new will with the same formalities as the original will, typically in the presence of witnesses and a notary public. In California, the will must have two witnesses and a notary is not required for the will itself. 
  5. Notify Relevant Parties: Inform beneficiaries, executors, and trustees of the new will to avoid any confusion or disputes in the future.
  6. Secure the Original Will: Store the old will in a secure location along with any attached codicils. This helps to prevent any misunderstanding regarding your intentions.


It’s important to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney in Folsom when amending a will to ensure that the changes are legally valid and to navigate the specific requirements of your jurisdiction. Additionally, periodic reviews of your will and estate plan are recommended to ensure they continue to reflect your current wishes and circumstances. If you have any questions about amending a will, contact Thapar Law at 916-579-0605 or send us a message.

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