Changing Your Will

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After you review your will to see if it still reflects your wishes and situation, you might realize that you need to make some changes.

Changes to a will are made in a document called a codicil. A codicil is appropriate for minor changes to an existing will. Minor changes include naming a new liquidator, modifying the liquidator’s powers or naming another person to be responsible for any children under 18 after you die.

Changes to a will must meet the same conditions as a will. In other words, the changes must be handwritten, made in the presence of witnesses or by a notary. But you can make the changes in a different way from your original will. For example, the codicil can be handwritten, but the will done by a notary. However, if your change is holographic or made in the presence of witnesses, it must be validated (“homologated”) by the court or a notary after you die, which involves costs and delays.

You can make changes at any time, as long as you have the capacity to do this in the legal sense of the word. This means you must have full control of your mental abilities. If you are declared incapable, you are no longer be allowed to make a will, change it or cancel it.

Changing Your Will on Your Own– Not So Simple!

When you change to your will, you should also confirm which parts of the will you don’t want to change. This will avoid confusion later on.

Be very careful when changing your will without consulting a legal professional. Sometimes, “homemade" changes cause problems in how your will is interpreted, and this can lead to arguments among your heirs.

A change that seems clear to you might not be clear to other people. For example, it might be hard to tell whether your change is just a change or actually a whole new will.

Here is an example of a change that can lead to problems:

Ms. Brown draws an arrow below the name of her heir, writes down the name of another person, and signs her name beside the change. Is she naming a second heir, or is she replacing the first heir?

Making Major Changes to Your Will

There are other things to consider if you want to make major changes to your will, for example, if you want to name new heirs or change the share of each heir. In these cases, it is often better to cancel your will and make a new one since the changes involve new wishes.

You can still use a codicil to make major changes, but keep in mind that when you die, your heirs will see both your original will and the changes. If you make a new will instead of changing your will, they will not see your changes. This will help prevent arguments in your family and among your heirs.

A legal professional can advise you about the best solution and prepare a change to your will or a brand new will.

Important !
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.