If you already have an estate plan that is fairly straightforward, you may be able to modify your estate plan through the use of one or more codicils. A codicil can change or supplement your will, trusts, etc. While Arizona will recognize a holographic, or handwritten, codicil, it’s better to go about it through the clearest means possible. Failure to meet Arizona’s material provision requirements could end up with the codicil being tossed out in probate court. Having witnesses at the signing will increase your codicil’s strength in court, as well as having the codicil notarized.
If your estate plan is complex, it may be impossible to make your desired changes through codicils. In these types of situations, it can be easier to simply revoke your estate plan and start over with a new one. There are multiple ways to revoke, or cancel, your estate plan in Arizona. One way is by destroying your will or other estate planning instrument you wish to revoke. There is no specific way you need to destroy your will- you can burn it, tear it, shred it, as long as you make it clear that you mean for it to be destroyed. Even if someone manages to piece together the burnt tatters of your revoked will, the court will uphold the revocation as long as it is clear that you intended to revoke it. But this leaves you with the issue of not having one or more parts of your estate plan in place. You should create a new document to replace the one you destroyed as soon as possible. You should also alert anyone who knew of the document that was revoked of your new intentions so that there isn’t any confusion after you pass away.
Another way to revoke your will and other parts of your estate plan is by creating a new, inconsistent document to replace it. The terms of your new document must be materially inconsistent from the original document. If you use this method, your most recently created document will be the one the court uses after you pass away. But multiple wills, trusts, and other estate planning instruments that need to be sorted by date can be confusing for your family members. In your new document, you should include a provision that this document is meant to replace a previous one, with any descriptors necessary. If you’re looking to update your estate plan, don’t take any risks. Discuss your situation with one of our experienced Gilbert estate planning lawyers. We offer affordable rates and your initial consultation is free of charge.