Many estate documents must reflect changes in a will

There are many reasons why you might alter your will, such as a significant life event, a change in your wishes for your estate or beneficiaries, or changes in the laws that govern taxation and estate planning.

It is wise to take time to sit down and review your will about every three years, even if no significant changes occur, simply to remind yourself of the details your own wishes and ensure that the document still represents your priorities. However, if you alter your will and do not also alter relevant documents relating to the changes you make, your new will may not hold water when it comes time to execute it.

In many instances, these issues arise around naming a beneficiary of a particular asset. Depending on the change you wish to make, you may have to also alter asset-specific documents to reflect the new will in order to take an asset out of one beneficiary’s name and place it under another. If you originally named a beneficiary to an asset in a separate document, you should make sure to rename the beneficiary in that document — not only in your will.

For instance, if you create a living trust and choose to alter its terms, merely changing the named beneficiaries in your will is not sufficient. You must also amend the original trust document for the changes to take effect.

Estate planning and will execution are not simple matters, and may require ongoing attention to ensure that your wishes remain clearly expressed and legally feasible. If you do not carefully maintain these tools, they may create chaos for the estate and your beneficiaries. An experienced attorney can help review these matters with you and guide you as you create a will that protects your wishes and loved ones, keeping your legacy safe for years to come.

Source: FindLaw, “Changing a Will,” accessed March 02, 2018

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