As an estate planning and elder law attorney, of course I’m going to recommend you make it a point to always reexamine and update your will; however, there are certain instances when you should definitely consult your lawyer and make a change to your last will and testament. I’ve listed these situations below:
1. You Have a Kid – Or You Get Some Grandchildren.
Obviously when you take steps to have children–or add to your current clan of kids–you’ll want to reexamine your will and make changes to reflect that. However, some forget to make changes to their will in old age, you should always reexamine your estate planning when you’re in your golden years, especially if grandchildren are a big part of your life and/or will
2. You Have New Stuff, or You Got Rid of Old Stuff.
When you make a big purchase (a new car, vacation home, piece of jewelry, etc.) you should consider altering your will to include it. You can name a beneficiary or include it in part of the assets allotted to a current beneficiary. Perhaps you inherit property, this may require altering your current last will and testament.
3. You Get Married or You Divorce.
Any change in your marital status should prompt a review and alteration of your will. Consult your attorney to set the best course for a change in any instance. What’s kosher in one state or jurisdiction may be different in another.
4. You Change Your Mind About Something or Someone.
God forbid you have a falling out with a relative, friend or beneficiary. However, if you do it’s likely you want to change your will – do this with your lawyer so that you can make sure there are no loopholes. Also remember that you must be of sound judgment when you change your will. So in other words, wait until the whiskey wears off.
5. You Have a New Partner (or Maybe Even Some Stepchildren You’re Close To).
If you’re not in a state where gay marriage is legal, you’ll (again) best to seek the counsel of an elder law or estate planning attorney. Also, if you get remarried and decide you’d like to include your stepchildren in your will, you should arrange it as soon as you make up your mind that’s what you want.
6. Someone Named in Your Will Dies.
If a death in the family or a death among one of your beneficiaries occurs, it’s time to change your will. It’s not the first thing you’ll think of after a devastating loss, however it’s important you address it in due time.
Ways to Change Your Will
Consult an attorney before you make a change to your will. That’s a surefire way to ensure that your wishes are carried out as you please. Creating a last will and testament can save your family a lot of heartache, stress and trouble after your passing. They’re going to go through enough, so stay on top of your will and keep it updated to avoid any family tension or ambiguity in the future. Remember that in some states it’s imperative that when you change your will you also revoke the old will.
Execution of Codicils
You might want to make a minor change to a will without rewriting the whole document. Such changes, amendments, or clarifications are called “codicils”. Florida will recognize these changes to your will, but only if a codicil meets the formal requirements for the original will’s execution. This is why it’s best to check with your attorney before changing your will.
About Heidi S. Webb, Attorney at Law – Heidi is an estate planning, elder law and small business attorney located in Daytona Beach, FL. She serves clients in Daytona, Ormond, Port Orange, and surrounding areas. Her office is located in the historic Kress building on Beach Street in Daytona.