Q: Can you temporarily change a will?

A: I admit, this question stumped me. Not so much because of what you are asking, but rather why you are asking it in the first place. I’ve tried to come up with a scenario why someone would want to change their will temporarily but I have come up blank.

There are essentially three ways to change an existing will.

The first one is to revoke the will in full. You can revoke a will by executing a revocation or by physically destroying it by doing something like tearing it up. If you revoked the will in full, you’ve essentially changed it because it no longer exists or is valid. However, it’s not temporary.

Another way to change a will is by executing a new will. A new will should revoke all prior wills so that the new will is the only valid one. By executing a new will, you’ve changed the original will by, again, revoking it. Once again however, it’s not temporary.

The third way to change a will is to execute an amendment to the will. A will amendment is known as a codicil. By executing a codicil, an existing will is still valid except for the portions addressed in the codicil are modified accordingly.

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Those are the most common ways to change a will. However, that doesn’t really address how a change can be temporary. It seems like anything that you do to change the will, will have a lasting effect rather than a temporary one. It’s very difficult to un-ring the bell.

If you physically revoke the will, it no longer exists. If you execute a new will, that would also obviously revoke the prior one. If you were to then revoke the subsequent will, I’m not sure that the original would then become valid again.

There is a line of cases that says if a subsequent will turns out to be invalid for some reason the prior one remains valid. However, the thought there is the original will was never revoked in the first place because the revocation failed. However, that wouldn’t be the case if the subsequent valid will was revoked rather than failed because it was invalid.

I guess you could execute a codicil amending the will and then revoke the codicil. That may be the only real option for you, but I’m not even sure that would work. Theoretically I suppose it would work, but I’m not so sure it would work practically.

I guess I’m taking the position that a temporary revocation may not be an option or, if it is, it’s a bad one. If you want to make a temporary change to your will, I think you should first talk to an attorney to discuss your thought process and goals. There is likely a better way to accomplish your goal.

Christopher W. Yugo is an attorney in Crown Point. Chris’ Estate Planning Article appears online every Sunday at www.nwi.com. Address questions to Chris in care of The Times, 601 W. 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321 or to Chrisyugolaw@gmail.com. Chris’ information is meant to be general in nature. Specific legal, tax, or insurance questions should be referred to your attorney, accountant, or estate-planning specialist.