Warning: Don’t Write on Your Will

  • Estate Planning
warning don't write on your will | estate and probate legal group

It’s normal to change your will over time. In fact, you should re-evaluate all of your estate planning documents every 3-5 years, and make any necessary updates. But it’s important to change your will legally; this means that you can’t just handwrite on your will and assume the changes are legal.

Don’t Write on Your Will to Make Changes

There are many reasons to change your will, but a handwritten change could nullify a legally executed will. Perhaps your executor moved far away and can’t fulfill the duties anymore, or you need to change who will receive your cars, or maybe you purchased a new house and need to add it to the will. It’s not the handwriting that’s the problem. Illinois recognizes handwritten wills if they meet the legal requirements. The issue is most people don’t understand and follow the rules when making handwritten changes to their will.

There are 2 ways to change your will legally:

  1. Write a new will
    Writing an entirely new document is an option. You must state that all prior wills are revoked and replaced with this new will.
  2. Add a new change document
    Adding a page stating the change is called a codicil. It must say which part of the will is being changed and reaffirm which parts remain unchanged.

But what if you already have a handwritten will that you want to change?

Handwritten Wills in Illinois

It is not common, but in some cases, Illinois recognizes a handwritten will as a legal document. But it must meet precise requirements. And changes to a handwritten will must also follow the legal guidelines to be legally enforceable.

You cannot change your will (handwritten or otherwise) by simply crossing out and adding information with a quick swipe of your initials. You want your will to follow your wishes after you pass away, so it must be legally executed according to state law.

Working With An Experienced Attorney

It is wise to change your will as your life changes. But making those changes so they are legally binding will greatly reduce the family disputes that will undoubtedly follow if the will is handwritten or edited incorrectly.

An experienced estate planning attorney can help you write or make changes to your will. They can ensure that your wishes are followed, and your assets are distributed exactly where you want them to be.

Oak Brook Estate Planning Attorney

Please contact us to schedule a free consultation if you have questions about writing or changing your will. To learn how an estate planning lawyer could help you, call us for a consultation at 630-864-5835.

Areas we serve: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will counties.