It’s important for people to have an estate plan, and there is no document more foundational to that plan than a last will and testament. When you write a will or establish a trust, you expect the arrangements to be iron-clad. However, when life brings unexpected changes, you may need to change your will or revoke it outright.
Revoking a California Will
California assumes that most adults have the mental capacity to write or modify a will. Similarly, California expects that most adults have the mental capacity to revoke or modify their will as well. In fact, California has specific laws instructing residents on the right way to cancel a last will and testament.
For most people, there are two ways to revoke a valid will:
Create a new will.
If you create a new will for the purpose of revoking an old will, you must include a non-ambiguous statement specifying that the new will is intended to replace or supersede all prior wills.
Destroy the will.
A will may be revoked if it is physically destroyed. However, the testator—the person who created the will—must be the one to destroy it or must otherwise be present when the will is being destroyed.
What to Do to Revoke Your Will
Before writing a new will or ripping up an old one, you should consult with your estate planning attorney to see if you have any better options. If, for instance, you wish to disinherit a beneficiary or add a new heir, you may be better served modifying your existing will instead of creating a new one.
Any major change in life circumstance should be cause to prompt an estate review—especially if and when the change is big enough to warrant the revocation of a will.
Even if you have no alternative to revocation, you need to ensure that you are revoking your will in accordance with California state law. An attorney can help you close up any loose ends and assist in reworking your entire estate plan.
Do You Need To Speak With An Attorney About Estate Planning?
If you need to speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer please contact us online or call us directly at 800.756.5596 to first register for one of our free, informative seminars. Your attendance will qualify you for a special discount for our estate planning services should you decide to make a free appointment at the conclusion of the seminar and choose to proceed with us. We proudly serve clients throughout California with offices in Torrance, Newport Beach, Orange, Woodland Hills and Pasadena.