Throughout your life, changes will take place that may trigger a need to modify your will. These include events such as marriage, divorce, the birth or adoption of a child, relocation to another state or country, changes your financial situation, or changes in the way you would like to distribute your estate.
When the need arises to change your will, you can modify it in a couple of ways:
- You can either revoke your current will and write a new one;
- Or you can amend your existing will by creating a codicil.
The Texas Probate Code provides two methods for revoking a will. In Texas, a testator can revoke a will either by a subsequent writing, or by a physical act.
Revocation of a will by subsequent writing
A testator can revoke a will in a new will, a codicil (an amendment to a will), or a declaration expressing an intent to revoke the will.
Each of these forms of revocation must be in writing and signed under the same formalities required for a will. The testator can expressly revoke a will by stating something to the effect that he or she “revokes all prior wills or codicils.”
A testator can also impliedly revoke a will by making a new bequest that is inconsistent with the prior will.
Revocation of a will by a physical act
A testator can also revoke a will by destroying or canceling it. This can be done by acts such as tearing up the will, cutting it, burning it, crossing out the signature line, or cutting the signature line from it.
In order to be a valid revocation, the physical act needs to be coupled with an intention to revoke the will.
If a will is holographic — one wholly in the testator’s handwriting — a testator can partially revoke certain provisions of the will by drawing lines through them or adding new provisions.
This is different for non-holographic wills. Texas does not permit partial revocations by physical act for non-holographic wills. Therefore, simply crossing out certain provisions of a non-holographic will is ineffective to revoke those provisions.
If you intend to revoke your will, it is important that you do it the right way. Otherwise, you may believe a will has been modified or revoked when in fact it has not.