Are the changes to the will valid? 10 Answers as of July 13, 2011

My mother drew up a will with a lawyer in 2006. In May 2011 she requested information from the same practice, different lawyer, on how/what the procedures were to change her will because things had changed in 5 years. She was advised,in writing, to make the changes on the copy he provided and call for an appointment to execute the changes. My mom made the changes longhand but unfortunately, passed away before she delivered the changes to the new lawyer. Are the changes to the will valid? It is her handwriting, etc.

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Apple Law Firm PLLC
Apple Law Firm PLLC | David Goldman
Not unless she resigned the will at the end in the presence of two witnesses who also signed the will. Even if this was done, it may be difficult to determine what her goal was. The problem is her actions may have cause problems with her existing will.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 7/13/2011
Law Office of B. Keith Martin
Law Office of B. Keith Martin | B. Keith Martin
Sadly, her changes are not valid, assuming that the prior will was typed. She could have made a valid "holographic will" by writing out her entire new will in long hand, signing and dating it. However, any printed word in it invalidates it, so her longhand amendments to the typewritten will are not valid. The remaining question is the effect of her writing on the validity of the old will. I think you are saying that she marked up a copy, so that should have no effect. If she marked up the original will, I am sure there are cases that answer that question. As long as she wrote nothing that seemed to cancel the old will, my guess is that the prior will would be still valid, but you need to consult an estate planning lawyer on that point. Another question is whether the second lawyer breached his duty to you as an heir and to her of providing good legal services by permitting this to happen. If you feel he was not as responsive as he should have been, you might wish to consult a malpractice lawyer about a possible suit for malpractice.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/13/2011
Donaldson Stewart, PC
Donaldson Stewart, PC | Monica H. Donaldson Stewart
If the changes were not executed with appropriate formalities, then these changes are probably not valid. A handwritten will can be valid as a "holographic" will, but only if the document is entirely in her handwriting and dated/signed - not if the handwritten notes are made upon a type-written document. There may be a question as to whether her prior will was still in effect (despite the handwritten notes) or whether it was revoked by her notes, therefore leaving her "intestate" (without a will).
Answer Applies to: Arizona
Replied: 7/12/2011
Majors Law Firm, P.C.
Majors Law Firm, P.C. | M. Jason Majors
In Wyoming, a Will written out entirely in the handwriting of the Testator would presumably be considered valid. This is called a holographic will. However, if your mother simply made some handwritten notations on the original will itself, these will likely not be considered valid changes, executed with the appropriate formalities. I would recommend having an estate planning lawyer in the State where your mother passed away review the handwritten changes for a determination of whether the changes would be considered valid.
Answer Applies to: Wyoming
Replied: 7/12/2011
Raxter Law
Raxter Law | Jeremiah Raxter
That is a tough question. For a codicil (amendment to a will) to be valid it must be in the testators' own handwriting, and signed. Without looking at the amendment, it is possible that the Court will allow it. Good Luck!
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/12/2011
    Law Offices of Timothy G. Kearney, LLC
    Law Offices of Timothy G. Kearney, LLC | Timothy G. Kearney
    It would appear based upon your facts that the revisions would not be effective because the document lacks the necessary signature, witnesses. etc required for a Last Will & Testament. However, I would advise you to consult with an attorney regarding this matter.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 7/12/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    In writing on the will, that voided the old will. And in not doing a new will, she has no will. From what you said she now has died intestate and unfortunately her wishes cannot be followed. This is a time when you need a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/12/2011
    Law Office of Richard B. Kell
    Law Office of Richard B. Kell | Richard B. Kell
    Unfortunately, no. The hand-written changes are not valid unless they were properly executed.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 7/12/2011
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