|When Should You Write a New Will?|
by Geri Epstein
Because your assets and circumstances can change
over time, as well as your attitude about your
beneficiaries, your executor and the guardian of your
children, you should review your Will on a yearly basis
to make sure it still reflects your wishes. You should
consider writing a new Will when any of the following
~~When you get married
~~When you get divorced
~~When you have children (natural or adopted)
~~When you move to another state
~~When any of your beneficiaries, executors, or
appointed guardians die or become unsuitable for any reason
~~When you change your mind about how or to whom you
want your property distributed.
Your Will remains valid until you write a new Will or revoke it
in writing. So give yourself the peace of mind of knowing
that your Will accurately reflects your wishes when
circumstances in your life change by writing a new Will.
Six reasons to write a new Will appear in the paragraphs
1. When you get married
In some states when you get married, your spouse will
automatically be entitled to inherit your property as if
you had no Will. If you do not wish this to happen, then
write a Premarital Agreement to make a provision for your
spouse in a Will or specifically state in your Will that
you intend not to mention your spouse. If you do want your
spouse to inherit, then you will want to specify his or
name in your Will as an heir.
2. When you get divorced
In some states when you get divorced, your former spouse is
automatically deleted from your Will. Because you can't
count on this, you should make a new Will when you get
divorced. You should protect your beneficiaries when your
divorce becomes final. You don't want your beneficiaries to
lose the money it may cost them to defend a former spouse's
claim to your estate in the courts.
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3. When you have children
In some states having a new child means that the new child
would get a share equal to what your other children
receive. In other states, having a child will revoke your
Will or cause the new child to receive more than the other
children. For these reasons, it is best to rewrite your
Will following the birth of each child. That way you can
specifically name the new child. An adopted child should be
specifically named in your Will as well. If one of your
children dies, that child's name should no longer appear in
4. When you move to a new state
When you move to a new state, the laws of the new state
concerning a Will may differ. For example, Vermont requires
three witnesses, whereas most other states only require two
witnesses. The laws of Louisiana are based on the French
legal system, rather than the English system the remaining
states have adopted. Generally, if you have a self-proving
Will, it most likely will be admitted to probate with no
problems. Without a self-proving Will, you will need to
find the witnesses and have them take a new oath to
validate your Will. Another reason to write a new Will when
you move to a new state is that it will prevent your former
state from trying to collect estate taxes from your heirs.
To avoid any potential problems, it is safest to become
familiar with the laws of your new state, write a new Will
that takes the laws of the new state into consideration,
and has witnesses that reside in your new state.
5. When a key person in your Will dies or becomes
When your executor, any beneficiary, or the guardian whom
you appoint to raise and educate your children becomes
unsuitable for any reason, you should consider rewriting
your Will. A person could become unsuitable if he or she
dies, becomes incapacitated, no longer want to perform this
role, or if you simply change your mind that the person you
named in the best one to perform the role. Naming a new
person gives you the peace of mind of knowing that you have
the person who has your best interests at heart to perform
such important roles for you. This is preferable to having
a stranger in a court appoint someone you may not want to
raise your children or administer you estate.
6. When you change your mind
Suppose one of your children wins the lottery while another
child suffers a debilitating disease. You may want to
provide for these children differently, even though you
love them both. Another reason you may change your mind is
that your relationship with a beneficiary changes. If one
child has cared for you in your declining years, while
another never even bothers to call, you may want to provide
for them differently. If all your children pre-decease you,
you may want to leave your money to your favorite charity.
These are just a few of the examples that may prompt you to
write a new Will.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is general information on the
legal issues presented and should not be regarded as a substitute for legal advice from
an attorney. Geri Epstein is not an attorney and DocumentsUSA is not a law firm.
The above article is presented as a community service by www.sandiegolawyerforyou.com with
the permission of the author.