Legal Tips and Resources
If you drafted a will a number of months or years ago, you are owed sincere congratulations. Many, if not most, Americans do not embrace a proactive approach to estate planning. Adults rarely draft wills, designate power of attorney authority and otherwise actively engage in estate planning until they reach later middle age or enter their golden years. Given that every independent adult in the United States could benefit from establishing an estate plan, you should be commended for taking this step.
Now that you have a will and/or general estate plan in place, you should know that your will is meant to function as a living document. Practically speaking, this means that your will can be revised as many times as you need to revisit it in order to ensure that it always reflects your current wishes. The creation of a will is an important act. But the revision of a will is an important act as well. If your will does not accurately illustrate your wishes, it is time to revisit your estate plan and alter it accordingly.
This is not to say that your current will must serve as your will forever. You may have compelling reasons to rescind your previous will and draft an entirely new document. If so, an attorney will be able to assist you with the legal process of formally revoking your current will in order to ensure that your new will is treated as legally enforceable.
To Revise or Not to Revise
One of the most compelling reasons to draft an entirely new will is experiencing a change in your marital status. If you marry or divorce, your financial circumstances and property ownership will likely change in significant ways. You will also likely wish to include your new spouse or exclude your former spouse in the fundamental terms of your will. A change in marital status so dramatically alters your legal life that revising your will to reflect this reality may prove to be more work than starting over would be.
With that said, other major changes in your life may result in solid reasons to revise your will but may not warrant a complete overhaul. The birth or death of beneficiaries, a significant acquisition or sale of property and/or pledging a significant testamentary gift to a beloved charity may necessitate revising your current will.
Estate Planning Guidance Is Available
If you have questions about creating a will specifically and/or creating an estate plan generally, please consider scheduling a consultation with an attorney experienced in this area of law. Once your attorney better understands your preferences and is able to view any previous estate planning documents you have had drafted, he or she will be able to advise you of your options. Depending on your unique circumstance, it may make sense to create new documentation, revise old documentation and/or explore alternative estate planning tools. Because estate plans are meant to serve as living documents, a lasting partnership with a knowledgeable estate lawyer Allentown, PA offers will almost certainly serve you well over time.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Klenk Law for their insight into estate planning and revising a will.