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Are last-minute changes to a will valid?

On Behalf of | Aug 22, 2023 | Estate Litigation

While dying is a unique experience for each person, several common occurrences tend to happen. Apart from experiencing heightened emotions, many individuals also report increased mental clarity and alertness right before passing away. As a result, it has become increasingly common for people to reflect on their will and consider making last-minute changes, such as adding or removing a beneficiary.

Using a codicil to make changes

Because life changes every so often, it is highly recommended that people take the time to update their wills regularly. Ideally, a person should review their will every three to five years or after a significant life event to ensure that it still accurately reflects their wishes.

A person who experiences a moment of clarity before passing away may want to revise their last will. In Nevada, individuals can amend or supplement an existing will with a codicil. A codicil is a separate legal document that allows the testator to make legally enforceable changes without writing an entirely new will.

Executing a codicil requires the same administrative requirements that a will does:

  • The signer must be over the age of 18.
  • The signer must be of sound mind and not subjected to undue influence.
  • The signer must be in the presence of two witnesses upon signing.

A codicil can be a valuable tool for making various changes to a will, from updating beneficiaries to replacing an executor. If the codicil meets the requirements and is valid, then the executor must enforce its changes.

However, codicils can make probate more complex. If a person is in no rush, it is advisable to draft a new will instead.

What if the testator was not of sound mind?

Beneficiaries and executors may suspect any last-minute modifications to a will, especially if the testator was in poor health. However, if the testator had testamentary capacity at the time of the amendment, it is likely valid.

Anyone with a stake in the will might consider challenging it if they suspect undue influence. But things may turn unpleasant here. Contesting a will may require a thorough investigation to show that the deceased lacked testamentary capacity.

While last-minute changes are usually valid, it is also possible for someone to be manipulated on their deathbed. In this situation, an estate attorney may be necessary to shed some light on the validity of those changes.

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