How can I remove someone as a beneficiary on my last will and testimony? 24 Answers as of December 13, 2013

How do I go about removing a person (a deceased niece) from my last will and testimony? Can I cross her name off of the original document and initial it? Can I have it notarized?

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Stephens Gourley & Bywater | David A. Stephens
You cannot remove them from the will by crossing them out and in fact doing so will invalidate the will. You would have to amend the will to remove the person. You may not need to do so depending on what the will says about predeceased beneficiaries.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 12/13/2013
Law Office of Pamela Braynon | Pamela Y. Braynon
Why not update your last will and testament and write a new one. After all, the will is not effective until your death and can be updated until the very end of your life. I would advise that a new will be written and the old one destroyed by either tearing it up or crossing through it with a red pen.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 12/12/2013
O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C.
O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C. | Sean P. O'Keefe
In Maryland, whether you need to do anything may depend on whether there is survivorship language in the document. Generally, one should not alter the original document, but instead create a new document with the desired change(s). You should be able to create a codicil or new will to amend the will.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 12/10/2013
Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
You probably do not have to do anything, but do not cross off anything on the original document. You should consult an estate planning attorney to see if an amendment is necessary.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/10/2013
Law Ofices of Edwin K. Niles | Edwin K. Niles
NO! Prepare and properly execute an amendment or a new will.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/10/2013
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    You should either re-make the Will or execute a codicil to the Will. The change needs to be witnessed in the same fashion as the original Will.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 12/10/2013
    Law Office of Nathan Wagner
    Law Office of Nathan Wagner | Nathan J. Wagner
    You should have a whole new will prepared, then execute it and have it properly witnessed. Simply crossing out her name would not work, and it might even make people wonder whether you were trying to revoke the entire will.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/10/2013
    Ashcraft & Ashcraft, Ltd.
    Ashcraft & Ashcraft, Ltd. | Randall C. Romei
    Your Will is an important legal document and you should ensure that there are no ambiguities in its enforcement and that you limit opportunities to challenge your intention under the document. If you want to change your Will best practices would be to revoke the existing Will and create a new Will.This helps insure that the changes are complete and leave no gaps or lapses. It is possible to alter a Will but doing so must be done in the same manner as the execution and attestation of the Will when first executed. The interlineation must be done in the presence of witnesses and be signed and dated. The Will itself must be resigned by the testator at the time of the later date, after the changes to the Will, and the testators execution of the Will a second time must be done in the presence of witnesses. The witnesses must attest to witnessing the alteration and testators signing the Will and witnesses signature must also be dated.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/10/2013
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    There is nothing that needs to be done. Since she is deceased, it's as if you never included her. However, if you wish her children to inherit her share, the will should reflect that. Your other option, is to do a new will.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/10/2013
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    I would have it redrafted by an attorney, and re-executed notarized and/or witnessed so there would not be any issue. You know there is going to be an unhappy person who will be looking for any means to challenge it.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/10/2013
    James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C.
    James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C. | James T. Weiner
    A properly drafted will should already have provisions about what happens if a beneficiary dies before you. So read it. But you cannot simply cross her name off .. you must rewrite the will.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/10/2013
    The Krone Law Firm, LLC | Norman B. Krone
    Have a new Will prepared and delete the reference to your niece.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 12/10/2013
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    Do a new will. You cannot make changes to your present will by marking it up; no testament is valid unless it is properly witnessed. Your will is the last thing you will say on Earth, and it is not repairable once you have passed away, so don't try to "Mickey Mouse" it together. Do a new will.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 12/10/2013
    James Law Group
    James Law Group | Christine James
    Yes you can cross it out and initial it. I would also write a letter stating why you are removing her, have the letter notarized, and put it with your will.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/10/2013
    Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
    No, you should not cross off someone's name. You need to do a codicil or a new Will, in most cases. There are other ways to achieve this, but you should consult with an attorney regarding the specifics.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/10/2013
    Coulter's Law
    Coulter's Law | Coulter K. Richardson
    Do not cross her name off and initial it or you may invite a challenge to the validity of the whole will. Have a lawyer take a look at the will. The will should provide for what happens when a beneficiary dies. Sometimes it goes to that beneficiaries surviving children. Other times it goes to everyone else in that class (i.e. other nieces and nephews). If necessary, draft a new will. The cost to draft a new will that only changes that one provision should be minimal.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 12/10/2013
    Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C.
    Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C. | Bernard H. Greenberg
    Simply do a new Will.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 12/10/2013
    Donald T. Scher & Associates, P.C.
    Donald T. Scher & Associates, P.C. | Donald Scher
    To remove a beneficiary from your Last Will and Testament, you would, in general, make a new Will or a Codicil. In this case, if she is deceased, then you do not need to do anything as she failed to survive you (which is usually a requirement to inherit), unless you did not provide that she must survive you in order to inherit something under your Will.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 12/10/2013
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    Seek the services of a probate lawyer to prepare an amendment to the will to remove a person or asset from the will. No notary is used in California.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/10/2013
    Peters Law, PLLC
    Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
    No, you either do a codicil, i.e. an amendment to the Will or you prepare a new Will.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 12/10/2013
    Estrada Law P.C. | Michele Ungvarsky
    The best way would be to have a codicil to the will drafted. However, you may not even have to do a codicil. If the will provides that any bequest lapses upon the death of the heir then it is automatically taken care of by the document. If the gift lapses then whatever you left to your niece will be left in the estate to be divided among the remaining heirs. If you have any questions please check with an Estate Planning attorney, please don't alter the original document it will create many problems at probate.
    Answer Applies to: New Mexico
    Replied: 12/10/2013
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    Does your Will provide what happens if a beneficiary predeceases you? You may not need to revise it. In Nevada, the lining out will not and modifying the Will in front a of a notary will not effectively change your Will. If the Will needs to be modified, you need to use a Codicil which must be properly executed in accordance with Nevada law. You may want to contact the attorney who prepared you Will for a codicil and also confirm that your powers of attorney are in the most recent format being used in the State. Best of luck to you.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 12/10/2013
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    You may not have to do anything. If your late niece does not have any living heirs, the bequest that you made to her will return to your estate and be distributed as part of the remains and residue of it. If you want the bequest to go to someone specific, it will be best to add a notarized codicil to the will noting your niece's death and your choice to make the bequest to Person X (name). If it's any more complex than that or if your niece stood to inherit a significant part of your estate, it would make sense to draft a new will.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 12/10/2013
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