FAQs About Wills

Can I Make Handwritten Changes To a Typewritten Will?

by Rania Combs

Handwritten changes a Testator makes before signing a typewritten Will are valid; however, handwritten changes made after signing a Will be disregarded unless the Testator observes all the formalities required for making a Will when they made the changes.

Additionally, if the testator makes so many modifications that it is impossible to establish the terms of the Will as originally written, the probate court may not admit the Will to probate.

Reasons You Might Want to Change a Typewritten Will

There are plenty of minor reasons you might want to modify your typewritten Will. It may be that you’d like to replace the executor you originally selected with another trusted family member. Or perhaps, you’ve decided that you’d like Grandma’s china to pass to your niece, rather than your nephew. And you would like your newly acquired Harley Davidson motorcycle to pass to your brother.

Because the changes seem so minor, you might consider just striking out some names, and replacing them with others. Or perhaps, you might insert a line or two in your original Will. For good measure, you might initial above the changes. That way, others would know you were responsible for the alterations and interlineations. That should work, right?

The short answer is no.

How to Correctly Change Your Will?

Signing a codicil is one option available to change your typewritten will. A codicil simply alters certain sections in an existing Will. For example, if you’ve reconsidered who will serve as executor, or trustee, you could simply amend the Section of your will to reflect this change using a codicil.

But codicils have to be signed with the same formalities as a Will. Additionally, codicils are easier to misplace (intentionally or inadvertently), especially if a testator creates multiple codicils. This may prevent the testator’s wishes from being carried out. There is also an increased chance that sections the codicil amends may conflict with other provisions in the Will, so it’s important to understand how each change affects other sections in your Will.

There are some situations where signing a codicil might be the best option; however, a new Will is often the best way to proceed. Codicils were more common decades ago before word processors existed. A codicil made sense for making minor changes rather than rewriting or retyping the full document. However, in the age of word processing, the attorney who drafted your Will can easily make simple changes and address any potential conflicts with other provisions in your Will.

Different Rules for Holographic Wills

Note, however, that these rules do not apply to holographic Wills if there is proof that a Testator made the changes in the Testator’s own handwriting. In that case, the probate court will recognize alterations and interlineations as a valid revocation of the prior provisions and a valid disposition according to the new provisions.

This article was originally published on June 16, 2014, and updated on May 7, 2024.

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About Rania

Rania graduated magna cum laude from South Texas College of Law Houston and is the founder of Rania Combs Law, PLLC. She has been licensed to practice law since 1994 and enjoys helping clients in Texas and North Carolina create estate plans that give them peace of mind.

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