Probate and Estate Planning


Just because you had the foresight to draft a will when you were young does not mean you never have to return to it to make changes. Life throws us a lot of curve balls that require changes to important legal documents, such as a will. If your will is older than your eldest child, you probably should revisit it to account for the rapidly changing legal environment. Many wills include ambiguous clauses that no longer hold legal relevance in a court of law. After all, courts and estate administrators cannot read the minds of decedents, which leads to nasty infighting between family members. To avoid lawsuits and the aftermath of family divisions, you need to update your will for clearly defining who gets what under probate law

When to Change a Will

If you drafted a will, you created a legal document that presents clear instructions on how to distribute your property, take care of your children, and provide end-of-life care. The acquisition of new property after the creation of a will is one reason why you need to make changes to the important legal document. This is especially relevant for someone that drafts a will early in life. You also have a reason to change a will because you have decided on different heirs to receive part, most, or all of your property. State law can dramatically change the way you view your will or outright make some of the clauses in your will illegal. Outdated wills often create confusion that forces courts to determine your intentions.

Here are some other reasons to change a will:

  • Sale of property
  • Death of heir
  • New asset valuations
  • Birth of new heirs
  • Divorce
  • Remarriage

Remarriage has emerged as the most frequent reason people change wills. The addition of stepchildren prompts the modification of property disbursements mandated in a legally sound will. You also might want to alter a will to drop an heir from receiving property or add a new heir for an estate asset disbursement.

How to Change a Will

Several legal options help you change a will. The most popular and easiest way to change a will involves revoking the current will and creating a new will in its place. In the new will, you must include clear language that revokes the legality of the previous will. Courts almost always refer to the most recent draft of a will as the legal document on record that expresses your wishes for estate administration. However, challenges to the current version of your will can occur because you were coerced or manipulated into signing a will. More than one version of a will often leads to court challenges to determine which version of a will carries legal weight under state law.

Should I Wait to Create a Will?

Because of the legal complexity of changing a will, many people believe it’s better to wait until later in life to draft the important legal document. However, most state laws that govern wills make it easier than ever to change wills. You should create a legal document that mandates estate administration as soon as you begin to earn money and acquire assets.

If you want to change sections of a will or completely overhaul the legal document that states who receives the proceeds from the sale of your estate, you should consider contacting a licensed attorney that specializes in probate law. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more about how to change your will.

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