When circumstances pertinent to the terms of a will change, it is appropriate to make the necessary amendments. The testator (a person who dies with a will) should ensure the amendments are properly expressed and inserted to avoid confusion among beneficiaries after their death.
An individual cannot simply insert the changes to be made in the current will by crossing out the relevant sections. If the changes necessary are major, it is advised to make an entirely new will. The first section of the new will should revoke any old wills, making the new will the only enforceable one.
If the changes are minor, the individual must make a codicil which is an amendment to the existing will. According to section 18 of the Succession Law Reform Act, the codicil must be written and signed by the testator and two witnesses. An alteration has no effect unless it is signed (not initialed) by the testator and two witnesses.
There are numerous reasons for making amendments to an existing will. These may include changing the executor, changes in the needs of existing beneficiaries, increasing or decreasing a legacy (gift of a specific sum of money), and others.
It is recommended to get legal advice in certain situations. First, the necessary changes to the will may create certain legal or practical problems which your lawyer may advise against. Second, having a lawyer prepare your codicil allows it to be properly drawn and executed.
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