When you decide to make changes to your will, handwriting them in on the will document may seem like the easiest way to do it. But making handwritten notations on your will could invite a lot of confusion and not convey your wishes the way you wanted.
What’s Wrong with Handwritten Notations?
In some states, such as Illinois, entirely handwritten wills are not valid unless they are signed by two witnesses and meet all other legal requirements for wills. Handwritten changes to a will might not be recognized at all by judges in Illinois. The same is true in some other states. Depending on the state in which a will is probated, handwritten notations could have no effect at all – the court would simply ignore the handwriting. Or the court may ignore the will altogether and award the estate to the closest living relative.
The laws disfavor handwritten notations because they are hard to read and because it is difficult to prove that the testator wrote them. Unfortunately, other people than the testator might have added notations on the will that favor themselves.
What Should You Do Instead of Making Handwritten Notations?
In Illinois, it is a good idea to avoid handwriting your will altogether. You can have a lawyer prepare a simple typed will that expresses all your wishes. That way, you can have peace of mind about your estate.
If you want to make changes to your will, you have two good options. You can make a new will that revokes the old one and destroy all copies of the old will. Or you can execute a “codicil” – a document that amends the old will to include new information. You must have your codicil properly executed with witnesses just like a will.
Put simply, handwritten notations in a will are a very risky idea. If you want to make sure that your wishes are carried out, making changes through a witnessed codicil or making a new will are better ideas.
Want to start planning your estate? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.