Changing, Adding To, and Revoking Your Will or Trust

Ask yourself if any of the following changes have occurred in your life since your will or trust was executed:

• Have you married or been divorced?
• Have your relatives, other beneficiaries, or the executor died or has your relationship with them changed substantially without any provision made in your will or trust for this contingency?
• Has the mental or physical condition of any of your relatives, other beneficiaries, or your executor changed considerably?
• Have you had any more children or grandchildren, or have your children moved out of, or into, your home?
• Have you bought, sold, or mortgaged any businesses or real estate?
• Have your financial circumstances changed significantly (think estate size, pension, salary, or ownership)?
• Have the laws of your state (or the federal tax laws) changed in a way that might affect your tax and estate planning?

After crafting your initial estate plan, your circumstances are likely to change. You may have more children or grandchildren, acquire more assets, have a falling out with family or friends or split with your spouse. The laws might change, rendering your estate planning obsolete or counterproductive. Many of these life changes can necessitate a change to your estate plan.

Reviewing your Will and Inventory of Assets

It is smart to review your will and inventory of assets and recipients annually. Pick a particular day, for example your birthday, to remind yourself. Remember also that this area of law can differ drastically from state to state, so it is critical to check (or have your lawyer check) how your jurisdiction covers relevant procedures.

Making Changes to your Will

As long as you are physically and mentally competent, you can change, add to, or even revoke your will at any time before your death. An amendment to a will is known as a codicil.

If you have tangible personal property (such as jewelry, artwork, or furniture) you want to give to certain people, you can create a tangible personal property memorandum. It is a separate handwritten document that is incorporated into the will by reference, like ‘This will incorporates the provisions of a separate but included Tangible Personal Property Memorandum…”

Major Life Changes

When you undergo a major life change, including divorce, remarriage, having additional children, or last child moving out of the house, it can be best to rewrite the will from scratch as opposed to making many small changes through codicils. This approach is best completed by executing a new will that revokes the old one.

Cohen & Burnett offers estate planning and fiduciary management, delivered by trusted legal professionals with the experience and specialization you require. To learn more about our services, please visit our homepage today.

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