Writing on your original will can invalidate the entire document. It doesn’t matter if you initial next to what you have written. Some people feel that once the document is signed and notarized they can feel free to make changes themselves. This is not true.
Keep your original document safe, clean and dry. Don’t eat near it, set a coffee cup on it, get it wet, or jot notes on it. And it is best not to un-staple it. These actions can make some or all of the words illegible, or can make the will look like it has been tampered with.
The most common time for people to write on their wills occurs (ironically) when they are about to go to the attorney’s office to have a change made. This is still a bad idea. If the writing on the will invalidates the current will, then the person is basically “going bare”, without a valid will until the next one is drafted and signed. This can take a few weeks or more, depending on how quick you are to schedule your appointment and review your changes, and how your schedule matches your attorney’s, notary’s and witnesses’ availability.
A better way to go is to make a copy of the will and then write on that. Or use sticky notes. Then you can discuss the changes with your attorney or family. But don’t write on the original. Not even with pencil! Your original document should have no extra marks or erasures.
Kalish Law Office – Wills, Probate, and Estate Planning – The Woodlands, Texas