Steps to Update Your Will in the New Year
A will is a legal document that outlines how you wish for the assets that make up your estate to be distributed after your death. There are many reasons why you would want to update your will. For example, it’s important to update your will to account for any changes in your life. Another great reason to update your will is that changes in tax or probate laws may affect the inheritance process.
In the State of Florida, Easy Estate Probate can help you update your will and tax plan in one of two ways:
1. Drafting a new will 2. Amending an existing will with a codicil
Drafting a New Will
The preferred route is to draft a new will. However, in order to avoid any complications in court, such as a challenge to a new will, the old will must be revoked.
Here are a couple of ways you can revoke a will:
- When you draft your new will, you must stipulate that you “revoke all previous wills and codicils.” You can also use this method to revoke a specific provision of the old (or original) will but still maintain the rest of the will intact.
- Destroy the old will and all copies of the old will. In order for this method to work, you must physically destroy the original document and all copies.
Codicils are legal documents that have all of the same requirements of a will, but they are not intended to be a complete will. The word codicil translates from Latin to mean “a short writing.” A codicil is a supplementary document to an existing will that allows you to outline instructions or modifications. In the State of Florida, codicils leave the testator (the person who dies and leaves a will in place) with two valid testamentary documents, and if one is lost, it can open up the challenges to the will.
Multiple codicils can be drafted to amend the will, revoke the will, or supersede previous codicils, but issues can arise if the codicils contradict each other or are lost. A codicil is best used to easily make one or two small changes without having to redraft an entire will.
Overall, since codicils can complicate the probate process, many people prefer to draft a whole new will.
Many things can change in a year, that is why many professionals in probate and estate planning recommend that you review and update your will at least once a year or when you undergo major life changes (such as marriage, divorce, remarriage, the death of a beneficiary, new children, new grandchildren, new great-grandchildren, marriages of children/grandchildren, receipt of an inheritance, relocation, or other expected and unexpected life events). It is possible that after going through one of these life-changing events, a will is no longer the right tool for you and that you may need something more flexible or sophisticated like a trust.
The very first step we recommend to update your will or any of your estate planning documents is to consult with a probate attorney like the experienced professionals at Easy Estate Probate. We can help you update and/or plan your will, estate, and taxes, so your beneficiaries receive exactly what you desire. Contact us for a FREE case review today!