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John Elder
John Elder, Estate & Elder Law
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 4631
Experience:  Over 14 years experience in Medicaid, Estates, Trust.
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Can you change beneficiaries in a will without doing a new

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Can you change beneficiaries in a will without doing a new will or retaining a
lawyer? Is that what a "Codicil" does?
Welcome! Thank you for your question.

A codicil is a document that can make changes to a Will. However, a Codicil has to be executed with the same formalities as a Will. This includes all the legal language from a Will. Because of the same formality requirements it can be just as time consuming to prepare a codicil as it is to prepare a new will. You also must be careful in preparing a codicil on your own because if it does not contain the proper language and was not executed before the correct witnesses and notary then your codicil will be invalid.

If you had a lawyer draft your original will then I would suggest going back to them to make the changes. Beneficiary changes can be generally easily made on the electronic version of your old will for much cheaper than a codicil or new will. The revised will can then be resigned with the proper formalities. Many attorneys will do this for less than a few hundred dollars.

I cannot provide you with legal advise. I have provided you with information about the law related to your question. My answer, and any information that you find online, should not take the place of having a consultation with a lawyer in your area to advise you regarding your specific issues.

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