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The best practice when making substantial changes to a will is first to revisit and if necessary update the estate plan, and then, second, if necessary, make an entirely new will from scratch. Remember, making changes to will without confirming that they are consistent with the estate plan is very risky.

Historically, when typing was difficult wills were amended by “codicil”. To be admitted to probate, a codicil must meet all of the formalities of execution as a will:

  • a holograph codicil must be entirely handwritten by the testator in their own handwriting, and signed at the bottom by the testator;
  • a typewritten codicil must be signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses who witness the testator and each other sign.
  • In order to probate a typewritten codicil, an affidavit of execution of the codicil sworn by one of the two witnesses is required.

Making changes on your will is not recommended. Handwritten notes and edits on the face of a signed will are often invalid because they do not meet the execution formalities for a while (a signature below the change, with the signature being applied after the edit is made), and frequently create great confusion and cost – a court application to determine the validity of the changes will likely be required.

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