Reston, VA asked in Estate Planning for Virginia

Q: Name change of beneficiary in will and trust documents.

Can I just make a note in the documents, or do I need to see a lawyer.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN

A: Definitely see a lawyer! Amendments to wills must be made with the same formalities as were required when the will was made. Most of the time that means two witnesses and sometimes a notary (not always). If you scribble changes in without following those formalities, a court may very well enforce the typed portions of the will but not the changes, which is clearly not the result you want. You should either do a formal codicil to the will or a whole new will that revokes and replaces all prior wills.

The formalities are not as strict for trust amendments, but if you really want your changes to stick, see an attorney to make sure they are done right.

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