Modifying an Existing Will
When a will is created, it must be in writing and signed by the testator—the person for which the will is made—or by a person in the testator’s presence and by the testator’s direction. Additionally, it must be attested in the presence of two or more credible witnesses.
Can Wills be Modified?
Illinois probate law permits testators to make additions to their lawfully executed wills with a codicil—a supplement that alters, amends, or modifies a will instead of replacing it. A codicil republishes the will, which means that probate is determined as of the date of the codicil. Therefore, if the testator bequests one amount to a beneficiary in the original will but changes that bequest amount in the codicil, the changed amount is the valid bequest.
Additionally, a codicil must be executed in the same manner as a will. It must be in writing, signed by the testator (or by a person in the testator’s presence and by the testator’s direction), and attested in the presence of two or more credible witnesses.
Modifying a Will with a Contract for Sale
If you have lawfully executed your will (with or without a codicil), but you desire to enter into a contract transferring property that you have bequeathed to someone else, can this be done? The answer is yes. The disposition of the property by the contract revokes the original bequest, but only if the contract has been properly executed. If the contract has not been properly executed, the original bequest stands.
Codicil a Better Vehicle for Modifying a Will
If you would like to modify or otherwise change a bequest, it is best to execute a codicil than to rely on a contract for sale. Also, if you wish to make a significant number of changes, then you are better off executing an entirely new will. Note that a later will automatically revokes an earlier will to the extent that the two are inconsistent. You can ensure that the earlier will is fully revoked by declaring as such in the later will.
If you wish to execute a will, modify an existing will, or revoke an existing will, please contact one of our experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys today at 630-756-1160. We can assist those in the Naperville area.