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On behalf of Richard A. Lewis posted in Estate Planning on Wednesday, July 27, 2016.

Even after a valid will has been established, things can change in life that may make a testator want to amend or even revoke the will. Relationships, divorce, family dynamics and financial changes are all major reasons that can mean a will needs to be revoked. However, can you revoke a will in California? The answer is yes. However, as with many legal actions in estate planning, there are specific procedural requirements to revoke a will so that it is recognized legally.

These specifics are stated under California Probate Code Section 6120-6124. When the testator revokes a will he or she is essentially getting rid of the will or replacing it with a new one. Sometimes he or she is changing the will. One way to revoke a will in California is to create an entirely new valid will. This new will can either expressly state it is revoking the previous will or contradicts the previous will, thereby revoking it.

Another way to revoke a will in California is literally destroying the will. This can be through burning the will, tearing it in half or obliterating the will in some way. The will has to either be destroyed by the testator or in front of the testator by another person (with express direction by the testator to destroy the will).

In addition, a divorce or annulment can automatically revoke certain dispositions in a will to the former spouse. However, there are exceptions to this (such as expressly providing for this exception in the will). These are just some of the ways a will can be revoked. It is important to discuss your specific estate planning situation with an experienced estate planning lawyer in California. Getting personalized legal counsel can help you determine what is best for you.

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