Stephen A. Martin, Attorney at Law
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How can you revoke a will?

If you have taken the advice of estate planning experts in Saint Charles and already drafted a will and other documents related to the dispersal of your assets, you might feel as though your work in this regard is over. Yet the hope is that you still live for many more years, during which time your circumstances can change. Such changes may prompt you to decide to modify the management (and eventual administration) of your estate. Changes such as these, however, can often prompt discord, with one or more of your beneficiaries contesting their validity (an easy challenge to make if you are not around to refute it). 

How, then, are you to make changes to your will (or revoke an older version in favor of a newer one)? According to Section 474.400 of Missouri's Revised Statutes, only a new modified version of a will is recognized as invalidating an earlier one. Some states allow amendments to be made, yet local law is very clear that even modifications to a will must be presented in the form of an updated document. For example, say you stipulated in your will that you wanted your collection of vintage baseball cards to go to your son. However, since that time, you have decided to instead leave them to your grandson. Only by submitting a new will with this amendment will legitimize that change. 

Involving your beneficiaries in the changing or revoking of your will might go far in avoiding disputes. When changes need to be made, communicating your wish to revoke an earlier will to your beneficiaries invalidates it. If you feel more drastic action is needed to convey your intent, the law states that burning, tearing or otherwise obliterating the earlier will (in the presence of witnesses) accomplishes the same purpose. 

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