A will is a legal declaration of the intention of a testator with respect to his property. If a person dies without making a will, he is said to have died ‘intestate’ and in such a case, his property is inherited by his heirs in accordance with laws of succession. If the contents of the will need to be changed due to a change of circumstances, it can be done either by a codicil (addendum) to the existing will or by completely replacing the will.
However, the following points should be kept in mind while changing a will:
Revocation of old will : While making a new will or codicil, the testator should mention about earlier wills (with date) and that the last will stands cancelled/amended.
Conditions of valid will :Any new will or codicil should be made by a person of a sound mind who is not under any undue influence or fraud or coercion. He should make the will in writing and sign it in the presence of at least two witnesses. The witnesses too are required to sign the will.
Contents of the will/codicil : If a new will is being made, the testator must review his earlier bequests and if required, modify or retain the same in the new one so that there is no ambiguity between the two. In case of a codicil, necessary reference to the clause in the earlier will must be provided for easy interpretation.
Registration : It is not mandatory to register the will, however, it is advisable to do so. If the earlier will was registered, it is necessary to register the new will/codicil.
Destroy old copies : Old will copies should be physically destroyed to avoid confusion and legal issues.
Points to note
Amendment of joint wills eg. wills of husband and wife should be made with due attention to consequences of the change with respect to both the testators.
A will can be changed as many times as the testator wants to.
Once a fresh will is made, the previous one stands revoked.