Many parents have wills that were drafted years ago. Now they want to leave some specific items to people. Those are items not specifically mentioned in the will.
How can I change my will? Can I just write this list and sign it in front of a notary, or do I need to have my will changed?
If you’re the executor and don’t want your father to have to spend more money to add these items to the will, how is it done?
Dad can keep it simple, says nj.com’s recent article, “Does my dad need to pay money to get a new will?” However, doing so will likely cause more trouble for the executor.
The father can create a written list that disposes of tangible personal property, not otherwise identified and disposed of by the will.
The list must either be in the testator’s handwriting or be signed by the testator. This list also must describe the item and the recipient clearly. This list can be created before or after the will is signed.
This list can be amended or revoked. It should be kept with the will or given to the executor, so he or she knows about it and can ensure it is followed.
This list isn’t legally enforceable. The executor may elect to honor such a distribution, assuming the beneficiaries of the other tangible personal property and/or residuary estate agree. That’s so, even if the will doesn’t reference the written list but the testator nevertheless leaves the list.
However, it would not be in the interest of the executor and may be perceived as a breach of fiduciary duty to honor such a list and make such a distribution, if the beneficiaries named in the will object. No one wants to cause a fight over the items on the list, after the parent is gone.
As a result, it would be wiser to invest in having the items added to a revised will to protect the father’s wishes. If some of the beneficiaries got into a quarrel over the items on the list, it could result in a family fight that a properly drafted and executed revision or amendment could prevent.
Reference: nj.com (October 14, 2019) “Does my dad need to pay money to get a new will?”