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Are handwritten amendments to my Will valid?

Often Wills are made long before a person dies. Between the time of making your Will and death, your circumstances may change. You may sell or buy property, you may give it away or lose it, beneficiaries in your original Will may have died and/or new beneficiaries may have come into consideration.

If a Willmaker does not own the asset given under the Will at the time of the Willmaker’s death, then the gift is ineffective and is said to have been “adeemed”.

Whether circumstances change or not, the Will remains in force as at the date of signing unless the Will is changed in whole or in part.

The Will itself cannot be altered by obliteration (rubbing out), interlineation (writing between lines), or by any other alteration after the Will has been signed, unlessthe alteration is signed by the Willmaker and the two witnesses in the same way as for the whole Will.

All signatures to the alteration must be made as close as possible to the alteration itself; this is usually done in the margin of the Will. Where any typing or handwritten mistakes occur when the Will is being prepared, these should be corrected and the correction initialled by the Willmaker and witnesses at the time of attestation.

Another way of amending your Will is by using a Codicil. A Codicil is a document that is to be read with the Will and is normally used where only one or two small changes to the original Will are required. If more changes are required it is preferable to execute a new Will incorporating the required amendments rather than to have two documents that may be difficult to read together.

When making or altering your Will it is always important to seek legal advice to ensure that your wishes are carried out. If you would like information on amending your Will, contact Geoff Brazel at Brazel Moore Lawyerson (02) 4324 7699.

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