When Is It Time to Update Your Will?

Planning for the long term eventualities of life sounds like good and prudent advice, but it is easy to let things slide when it comes to the execution. This is especially true when a person is young, not necessarily aware of what plans to make, and apt to feel like they have unlimited time to figure such issues out later. The problem with this approach is one never knows when life’s eventualities will catch up with them, and then it is typically too late to remedy all of the gaps the family will be left to address. When it comes to estate planning, the purpose is to make the life of friends and family easier so they can focus on remembering the loved one, and not the financial details of how to pay for remaining expenses or deciding who gets what. A will allows a person to designate how to distribute his/her property after death, with the creator having the freedom to make the division as simple or complex as he/she desires. While it may seem that a will is a static document that is set in stone once written, it is, in fact, meant to change and grow as the circumstances of its creator evolve.

When to Consider Changing a Will

One general consideration to keep in mind before deciding whether or not to change a will is that the contents of these documents reflect deeply pondered intentions and should not be altered because of a passing fight or disagreement. However, when circumstances do change, it is important to update the will, because failure to do so could render provisions invalid under the terms of the law. Some of the big life events that should definitely prompt someone to update estate planning documents include marriage, birth of children, divorce, death and the sale of property. Basically, if a person named as an inheritor in the will dies, or new potential inheritors are born or otherwise enter the family, it is important a will reflect these life changes so the document continues to reflect the creator’s wishes. Further, if a piece of property identified in the will is sold or somehow transferred to a new owner, this fact needs to be addressed so that those provisions of the will remain valid. There are also less obvious or foreseeable circumstances that might require changes, such as severing of relationships with family members or friends. If it seems reconciliation with these parties is unlikely or impossible, it may be best to remove them from all estate planning documents.

How to Make These Changes

Amendments, or changes to a will, are referred to as codicils in the law. Codicils must be executed with same formality as the will itself. This means the will must be in writing, and signed by the creator at the end of the document. In addition, it must be confirmed in the presence of two witnesses. These witnesses are required to sign the document in front of the creator and in the presence of each other. No particular words are necessary to create a will as long as the listed formalities are followed.

Consult an Estate Planning Attorney

Figuring how when and how to modify an existing will is not always an easy determination. An experienced estate planning attorney can address this uncertainty, and help you craft the best option for your situation. The Tampa law firm of Bubley & Bubley, P.A. has attorneys on staff with experience in a wide variety of estate planning issues and can put that knowledge to work for you. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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