Texas Wills Changes

Creating a Will allows you to make decisions as to who is going to own and control your property after you die. However, just as your life changes, so should your will. Estate planning experts say that you should change your Will after a major event in your life such as purchasing property or having children – and in Texas, there are three ways to go about doing that.

Texas Attorney R. David Weaver

We interviewed Texas Attorney R. David Weaver, a Texas attorney with over 25 years experience whose practice offers a wide range of legal services including estate planning, and probate, and asked him about the three ways to change your Will. Here’s what he told us:

  • Simple revocation. The first way to change or modify your Will is through simple revocation. In other words, ‘I revoke the Will.’ That would have to be done in writing and it doesn’t require the making of a new will. It just says, ‘I revoke the Will that I made,’ and, of course, it reverts back to the condition in which it was when the person was intestate [without a Will].
  • Codicil. The second way to change your Will is by codicil, which basically is an amendment to the Will. There are some people who still advocate doing a codicil. We generally recommend against it because of the complications that often arise after the death of the testator. Instead, we generally do a revocation with a new Will. In other words, when we do a Will, we revoke all prior Wills and codicils that have been made and we start from scratch and do a new Will. Oddly enough, the cost of doing the new Will is not really any more than the cost of doing a codicil and it’s a whole lot more streamlined and much less complicated.

    A codicil is just an amendment when someone wants to change her beneficiary, executor or has decided to give her grandmother’s broach to somebody else. It usually occurs when somebody gets mad at somebody else. So, if someone’s told you that they’re writing you out of their Will, chances are that they’ll come see me to do a codicil!

  • Some changes occur automatically. When a family has a change in the way it’s formed, such as adopting a child, getting a divorce or getting married, those types of situations can affect a Will. Some things will affect a Will automatically, though. For instance, with regard to married couples who are still of child-bearing age – and even those who aren’t – we still put a provision in the Will that any child born or adopted to the marriage after the making of the Will, will share equally with children that are existing.

    I’d like to add one thing about divorce. If my wife and I have a Will and we’re each the beneficiary of that Will and then we get divorced, we lose our beneficiary status as a matter of law unless we name each other either in the divorce decree or by making a will after the divorce.

There has to be a reaffirmation, according to Weaver, either in the decree of divorce or in the subsequent testamentary documents where we state our intention that our ex-spouse is intended to be a beneficiary. He says that works the same way for life insurance and any other instrument upon which a beneficiary may be designated.

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