Reviewing & Updating Your Will
Jan. 4, 2023
You did the right thing and created your will. You wanted to make sure you would not die intestate, leaving all the decisions about who benefits from your legacy up to the probate court. It is a step in the right direction, but once you’ve set it up, it’s important to review your will every so often.
Wills are not set in stone until the day you die. Throughout your lifetime, your life and laws pertinent to estate planning will change. Your will needs to keep pace with those changes so that at any time, it reflects your life at that moment. Wills are living, breathing documents waiting to launch into action upon your death. Make sure it is a current version when that happens.
Attorney Fong at the Law Office of Geoffrey Fong helps clients review and update their wills to reflect their current realities and not just their past. If you live in Rocklin, California, or in surrounding communities including Citrus Heights, Folsom, or Roseville, reach out to revisit your will to bring it up to speed.
How Often Should I Review My Will?
Think about how many things in your life have changed during the past year. Consider how many federal and California laws might have changed in the same period. When you do, you might figure out that reviewing your will at least once a year, and updating your will as needed, is a smart move.
A review is not as easy as it may appear on the surface. Perhaps you think that because you got divorced, you can just delete the references to your now former spouse. However, one change in a will can have a domino effect, and each falling domino must be addressed, or you risk creating ambiguity that can cause the entire document to be called into question once it is filed with the probate court.
Also, your estate planning attorney will know if there have been changes to the law that affect your will as well. This is just another good reason to review and update your will with an experienced attorney. If you created your current will using an online form, you may want to reconsider taking that route and work with an estate planning attorney instead. The fact is that depending on changing circumstances, a will may no longer be the best estate planning tool for you to use.
What Changes Should Prompt Me to Update My Will?
In addition to reviewing your will annually, there are life events and changing decisions that should prompt when you should change your will. Here are a few examples:
You marry, divorce or your spouse dies.
You have children or grandchildren, or you experience the death of a child or grandchild.
The charity that used to be important to you no longer holds that distinction.
You buy or sell a home or other real property.
You acquire or lose assets.
You begin or close a business.
You move to another state where laws will differ.
You want to name a guardian for a minor child or name a new guardian.
You want to change the beneficiary designations in your will.
You want to name a new executor of your estate.
You are diagnosed with an illness and want to incorporate estate planning documents that will ensure your finances are managed to take care of you.
You want someone who witnessed your current will to benefit from your estate, so you need a disinterested party to witness a revised will or codicil.
There is a change in state or federal law that affects your will or other estate planning documents.
Should I Change My Will or Draft a New Will?
There are two ways to update your will. You can add a codicil, or you can revoke the existing will and execute the updated will.
A codicil details any revision you make to your will. For example, it would specifically revoke or revise a certain paragraph or section of your will. Codicils can make the will ambiguous, especially if the codicil revises one section of the will it then makes it contradict another section you fail to revise.
You can avoid ambiguity and contradictions by drafting a new will. You will revoke all previous wills in executing the new one. The process of drafting a new will ensures that you will review each and every provision therein. Since codicils and new wills must both be witnessed by two competent parties, you save no time by opting for the codicil.
Prepare for Tomorrow Today
Updating your will is a necessary activity during your lifetime. In many ways, it is no different than meeting with your accountant every year at tax time or visiting your doctor for an annual checkup. The Law Office of Geoffrey Fong will help you keep your wishes regarding your legacy up to date. Attorney Fong is a wills attorney more than prepared to support and guide you. When the time comes for your will to be filed in probate, it will reflect those wishes.
If you live in Rocklin, California, or the surrounding area, call the Law Office of Geoffrey Fong to schedule a time to review your will. Attorney Fong will help you bring your will and estate plan up to the speed of your life.