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How Do I Change My Will?

change my will

Creating a will is a vital step in ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes. However, life is dynamic, and circumstances can change, necessitating updates to your will. This post will walk you through the necessary steps for changing a will in Washington state. For personalized advice and assistance tailored to your specific needs, contact Attorney at Law John Lutgens to speak with an experienced and dedicated Vancouver estate planning lawyer.

Reasons to Change Your Will

There are several reasons why you might need to update your will:

  • Marriage or Divorce: Significant life events such as marriage or divorce can alter your wishes for asset distribution.

  • Birth or Adoption of a Child: Adding a new family member might necessitate changes to your beneficiaries.

  • Death of a Beneficiary: If a beneficiary passes away, you might need to update your will to reflect this change.

  • Changes in Assets: Acquiring or selling significant assets can impact your estate distribution plans.

  • Relocation: Moving to a different state can require updates due to differences among state laws.

  • Tax Law Changes: Changes in tax laws may affect how you want your estate handled.

Methods to Change Your Will

There are two primary methods to change your will: drafting a codicil or drafting a new will.


A codicil is a legal document that amends your existing will. It allows you to make specific changes without rewriting the entire document. Here’s how to create a codicil:

  1. Consult an Attorney: It’s advisable to consult with an estate planning attorney to ensure your codicil complies with Washington state laws.

  2. Draft the Codicil: Clearly state the changes you want to make. Be specific about which sections of the will are being amended.

  3. Sign the Codicil: Like your original will, the codicil must be signed in the presence of two witnesses who are not beneficiaries.

  4. Store Safely: Keep the codicil with your original will in a secure place, such as a safe or with your attorney.

Drafting a New Will

In many cases, drafting a new will might be more practical than using a codicil, especially if you need to make extensive changes. Here’s the process:

  1. Revoke the Old Will: State clearly in your new will that you are revoking all previous wills and codicils.

  2. Create the New Will: Outline your wishes for asset distribution, guardianship of minors, and other important considerations.

  3. Sign and Witness: Sign your new will in the presence of two witnesses who are not beneficiaries, ensuring it meets all legal requirements.

  4. Destroy the Old Will: To avoid confusion, destroy all copies of the old will. This can include tearing up or shredding the document. Merely marking the old will as “revoked” might not be legally sufficient and is likely to generate confusion and will contests.

  5. Inform Relevant Parties: Inform your executor and other relevant parties of the new will’s existence and location.

Legal Considerations in Washington

Washington state has specific legal requirements for wills and codicils. Here are a few key points:

  • Witnesses: Washington requires at least two witnesses to be present during the signing of the will or codicil. These witnesses must not be beneficiaries.

  • Executor: Choose an executor who is willing and able to carry out your wishes as outlined in your will.

  • Revocation: Clearly state your intent to revoke previous wills and codicils in your new will to avoid any legal conflicts.

Consulting an Estate Planning Attorney

Navigating the complexities of estate planning can be challenging. Consulting an experienced estate planning attorney like John Lutgens in Vancouver, Washington, can provide peace of mind. An attorney can help ensure your will reflects your current wishes and complies with all current legal requirements while also advising you in the future of any changes in the law that might affect you.

Contact Attorney at Law John Lutgens for Help With Wills and Estate Planning in Vancouver, Washington

Changing your will is an important step in maintaining an up-to-date estate plan that accurately reflects your wishes. Whether you choose to amend your will with a codicil or draft a new will entirely, ensuring these changes are legally binding and properly documented is crucial. For residents of Vancouver, Washington, seeking professional assistance from an estate planning attorney like John Lutgens can provide the guidance needed to make these changes smoothly and effectively.

If you have questions or need assistance updating your will, don’t hesitate to contact John Lutgens for expert advice tailored to your unique situation. Call 360-693-2119 for a free initial consultation.

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