A personal property memo is a legal document to change or amend an existing will, also called an addendum or a codicil. Creating a valid, enforceable will requires a lot of time and thought, and typically the cost of hiring an estate planning attorney to execute and review the will to be sure it is legal and enforceable. A personal property memo lets you change your will without entirely destroying it, which may be a simple solution if you want to change property rights or if you wish to add an amendment to a will that is otherwise current.
While a personal property memo is legal in many states, it is not legal in Illinois. It is legal to have one or more codicils to make changes to your will without rewriting your entire will. Codicils have the same legal requirements as a will. According to Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/4-3, a codicil must be:
• in writing
• signed by the testator or a third party
• witnessed by two or more valid witnesses
A codicil should specify what parts of the will are being changed, and also be dated to make sure the probate court recognizes that it is valid.
There are many reasons you may wish to change a part of your will while leaving the rest of your will unchanged:
• Add or delete certain bequests
• Change who will inherit a piece of property
• Change how your business is to be divided
• Change your executor or alternative executor
• Include newly acquired property or remove property you know longer have
• Change your beneficiaries due to deaths, divorce, marriages, or births
• You inherit property or other assets from someone else
• Change the guardian for your minor children
• Change the distribution of your assets for your children who are no longer minors
• Changes to address tax consequences to beneficiaries
Your will can have multiple addendums. However, a will with many codicils over time may be difficult to resolve in probate court, and probate could take longer and cost more.
If you’ve made multiple addendums to your will, you may want to make a new will to avoid probate issues for your beneficiaries.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on the best options for creating a codicil to your will. To talk to an estate planning attorney contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-687-9100.