Do You Need to Amend Your Will to Change Executors?
I am attempting to help a friend add an addendum to his will for the purpose of naming a person to dispose of his personal household contents. He has a trustee named for his trust but would like to have the home and contents handled separately. Do you have suggestions how to accomplish this without re-doing the costly will?
You have two issues here. First, generally the person who is appointed as executor or personal representative in will is responsible for the disposition of the decedent’s personal household property. It’s not clear to me whether your friend wants to change this designation or simply have the executor or personal representative engage someone else to carry out this task. If the latter, it’s probably not best to do this through the will because it would mean giving the executor responsibility and potential liability for carrying out a function while directing how that function will be carried out. Most people will be reluctant to take on responsibility for a task without control over how to carry it out. It would be better for your friend simply to have a conversation with the person he’s appointing or write him a letter with the request that a certain person dispose of his personal household items.
If, on the other hand, your friend wants to change who he’s appointing as executor, he can do that either through an amendment to the will, which is known as a “codicil,” or a new will. The codicil is not much easier to prepare than a new will since it still must be signed with all the formality of a will — witnesses and a notary. In our case, if our firm had prepared the original will usually it’s much easier for us to prepare a new will than a codicil since we would have the original will in our word-processing system, enabling us to create a new one simply by changing some names and dates. To create a codicil would involve creating a whole new document, even if it’s a simple one.