You want to call your estate planning attorney (or an experienced attorney if you never hired one to draft your estate plan.) The answer depends on what types of changes you have in mind. You can make a select few of the changes on your own. For example, if your Will or Trust incorporates a list of personal articles by reference, you can update that list. Beyond that, it is a good idea to obtain legal advice from an experienced estate planing probate attorney.
If there is one thing that makes me cringe, it is seeing a Will or Trust after someone has passed away, and realizing that the testator handwrote changes on the original. The legal differences are astounding. By handwriting their changes on top of the original, they possibly either changed or revoked the document. Then a court will need to decide if they revoked it, didn’t revoke it, made the changes when they lacked capacity to do so, or made valid changes. Each of these possibilities has a different outcome.
For example, assume Joe is married to Jane, but his Will leaves his estate to A and B in equal shares. A week before he died, assume Joe scratched out “B” and wrote “C” on his original Will. If Joe did nothing, A and B would inherit his estate. If Joe revoked his Will (under some conditions), Jane will inherit his estate. If Joe changed his Will A and C inherit his estate. If Joe handwrote on his Will when he lacked capacity, A and B inherit. The more money Joe is worth, the more likely Jane, A, B, and C are likely to have an expensive legal fight.
Contact An Experienced Dallas Estate Planning Attorney
Whether you're planning your own estate, trying to understand a parent's estate plan, caring for an aging relative or facing probate, our experienced Dallas estate planning and probate attorneys can help you navigate the process and safeguard your family's future. Contact Smith Klein Law today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation.