Reviewing & Updating Your Will
Nov. 9, 2022
According to a Gallup Poll, fewer than half of adult Americans have a will. The company’s polling in 2020 found that roughly 46 percent of Americans have a will in place to specify what to do with their assets and how to take care of their loved ones when they’re gone. Three previous polls dating to 1990 found similar results for less than half the population.
The question is, for those who have executed a last will and testament, when was the last time they revisited the document to update it to reflect current realities? Also, and just as important, did they rely on an experienced estate planning attorney to create their will to make sure there were no ambiguities or legal mistakes that could later come back to haunt proceedings in probate court?
If you have a will that needs to be reviewed and/or updated, or you need to commence estate planning in or around the greater Los Angeles area, contact the Law Office of Rodney Gould. Attorney Rodney Gould is an estate planning attorney that has the knowledge and experience to direct you toward the right path. Also, he can assist you in drafting a will that fits your specific needs and best interests. He also serves clients in Studio City, Sherman Oaks, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills, California.
Updating Your Will and When
It’s surprising how many people make major changes in their lives and then overlook the necessity to update their will to reflect those changes. They may have acquired new assets, moved to a new and more expensive home, or even gotten remarried. Their will obviously needs to be modified or even redone to reflect these changes, but they’re too busy going about the process of living and enjoying life in its new version.
Even without any major changes in your life, your will still needs to be revisited frequently. One of the major requirements of a will is to name someone as your personal representative who, upon your death, will become executor of your estate and administer the dictates of your will. What happens if that person has moved to another city or state or no longer wants the responsibility of being an executor? You may have to name someone new.
The same is true if you’ve named a guardian for your children in your will. If that person is suddenly unwilling or unable to become a guardian, you’ll have to find and designate someone else.
Obviously, if you’ve obtained new assets or sold or lost assets, an update is in order. Say you purchased a motor home or a boat – you will need to designate those new assets.
If your life has changed in dramatic ways – you’ve gotten divorced and remarried, for instance – then changes are clearly in order. You will have to replace the former spouse with the new one, and if you have more children during the new marriage, they will need to be taken into consideration as well. Stepchildren may also come into the picture.
Draft a New Will or Add a Codicil?
Depending on how dramatic the changes to your will are going to be, you have two choices – destroying the old will and creating a new one, or adding an amendment, which is called a codicil under California law. Unless the change you’re making is relatively minor, you should probably pick the first option and draft a new will.
Technically, you don’t have to destroy your current will, but any new will you create must state that it supersedes any previously dated document. If you create a new will, you will obviously need to sign it, and you will have to have two non-beneficiary witnesses sign it as well. You must also be “of sound mind.” Sound mind means you understand what your assets are and what you’re doing, and also understand who your relatives are.
Your new will, or codicil to a current will, should be done with and under the advisement of an experienced attorney. You should also have your attorney retain a copy of your will in case any questions arise during probate proceedings.
Discover Your Options Today
If you are in Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Studio City, or Beverly Hills, California, rely on the Law Office of Rodney Gould for all your estate planning questions and needs.
Whether you have a will that needs reviewing – which should be done frequently, even yearly – or you’re just starting the estate planning process, Attorney Rodney Gould will help you put the wishes for your loved ones after you’re gone into a solid legal document.