How Do I Make Changes to an Existing Will?

Wondering how to update your will? Drafting a will is a pivotal step in adult life, ensuring your wishes are carried out after you’re gone, regardless of your income or assets. However, life is dynamic, and circumstances change over time. So, how do you modify an existing will to reflect these changes? In this article, we’ll delve into the process of updating a will, addressing common questions and providing guidance on navigating this essential aspect of estate planning.

They don’t have to be complex documents. In fact, for most people, a will should be relatively straightforward. The complexity of your will typically corresponds to the complexity of your life. For example, if your family situation involves special considerations regarding children or other relatives, you may have specific reasons for including or excluding certain individuals. Similarly, if you have significant wealth or assets you wish to protect, your will can reflect these complexities.

The importance of regular will reviews

Having a will is a responsible decision for both you and your family. However, its primary purpose is to benefit your family rather than yourself in memory. Wills aren’t one-time documents to be forgotten until after you pass away. Instead, they should be reviewed regularly, even if no changes are needed. I recommend reviewing your will before reaching old age or in the event of critical illness.

We’ve all witnessed scenes in movies where a dramatic reading of a will occurs after the passing of a wealthy older relative. These scenes often depict a moment of suspense, with a deserving family member overlooked in favor of a distant relative or new spouse. The family is left devastated, and the unexpected contents of the will have a profound impact on their lives, shaping the rest of the movie’s plot. However, you wouldn’t want your life to resemble a poorly scripted movie. Therefore, I recommend taking a different approach when it comes to managing your will and other end-of-life affairs.

I specifically recommend scheduling a reading of your will shortly after its completion, while you’re still in good health. This proactive approach ensures clarity and eliminates any potential confusion or questions regarding your intentions after your passing. The last thing your family needs is to grapple with shock and uncertainty about their inheritances or the distribution of assets. Holding a will reading early on in the estate planning process minimizes the risk of misunderstandings and ensures that everyone is aware of your wishes.

Benefits of discussing your will with family

This also provides an opportunity for any relatives excluded from the will to discuss the reasoning behind it with you. This dialogue may enable them to make changes in their lives to potentially regain status as beneficiaries under your will. While you’re the best judge of the exact circumstances within your family, there may be relatives who would benefit from being informed about the contents of your will in this manner. Even if you don’t anticipate such situations, I still believe it’s wise to have a conversation with your immediate family about the contents of your will. This ensures everyone is on the same page and can help prevent misunderstandings down the line.

During such a difficult time, you’ll want your family to focus on grieving and cherishing their positive memories of you. What you certainly wouldn’t want is for them to spend an extended period after your passing discussing or arguing about your will. Such conflicts are almost certainly unhealthy for everyone involved and can be avoided by taking the time to discuss your will with your family beforehand. By having these conversations proactively, you can ensure that your wishes are understood and minimize the potential for disputes among your loved ones after you’re gone.

Benefits of hiring an attorney to help you draft your will

When it comes to drafting a will there are two general reasons why I think it is important for you to at least consider hiring an attorney. The first would be because you are attorney has a level of experience in handling matters related to estate planning over and above what you possess. This means that you may not anticipate certain events occurring in your life that may require different types of provisions or protections being included in the will. For example, there may be tax advantages in creating a particular type of trust within the will that you were not aware of before speaking with your attorney. You may lose out on tax savings by not considering the full implications of your decision-making.

An attorney will help your problems solve through tricky circumstances that you may encounter in your situation and can provide you with solutions that you may not maybe even ever been aware of. This does not mean that an attorney can solve all your problems. However, what it does mean is that having an attorney provides you with a level of competency to make sure that what you decide to include in your will is thorough and suits your family for the best.

The second benefit to having an experienced estate planning attorney by your side within a case is to ensure that your will is valid and has a minimal chance of being contested in court. One of the major ways that a probate court can ruin an otherwise good estate plan would be to have a judge not be able to enforce the terms of your will after it is challenged by a relative. Small mistakes and drafting a document can lead to big problems for your family after you pass.

Making changes to your will does not have to be difficult

With all of that said, simply having a will is not enough to prepare for end-of-life circumstances. Many people will have a well-drafted with their spouse when they first get married, took the will away and not make any changes for many years, or will never pick the wheel back up and make any changes at all. This is a huge mistake. Your life and my stand to change so much over a few decades that a will written 25 years ago probably does not reflect half of your current needs.

Children are born. Sadly, children die. You could get married, divorced, and then remarried again. You may have written a will when you first got married and had very little in the way of assets. However, now that you are more established in your career you may have a great deal of wealth and that is not reflected in the terms of your original will drafted many years ago. The point is that you need to be able to make changes when necessary to your will. This does not mean that you need to make changes for no reason or invent reasons to change the terms of your will. However, as your life changes so must your will.

Updating your will: overcoming common obstacles

Many people hesitate to update their wills due to the perceived effort involved. They may find it challenging to summon the determination needed to revisit past memories and discomfort from the initial drafting process.

To that, I would say it is not difficult to update or change a will. If you can remember the process that you went through to draft your original will then updating a will should not intimidate you. rather, the process of updating a will should be something like a refresher course or even an opportunity for you to revisit prior estate planning goals in hopes of avoiding problems with the end-of-life scenarios. Specifically, you would be able to either create an entirely new will or could make what is called a codicil to your existing will.

If you need to update certain parts of your will then you would need to have drafted a codicil. They caught us ill may reflect small changes that need to be made tear will it should not be used for major, wholesale updates for a will. Examples of relatively small matters that could be covered by a codicil include name changes if you were to have gotten married and simply need to update your name, changing details about your executor or their information, updating the name of a beneficiary if their name were to have changed over time or updating age benchmarks for a child to begin to receive benefits under the will.

Updating your will with a codicil: Important considerations

An important thing to keep in mind is that just because the information updated in a codicil is not incredibly remarkable does that mean that the process of creating the crowd itself does not have to be formalized. Just as with your original wheel, the codicil tear will be signed and witnessed in the same way. You can not simply draft and update tear will by yourself and then staple it to your original wheel. Rather, he must again locate two witnesses and have the document notarized just as you did your original will.

One of the benefits of having a codicil to a wheel drafted is that it is less expensive to do so as compared to completely drafting a new will. The codicil is not a free-standing document. It is an addendum to your current will. Another aspect to think about is what you are attempting to do in creating a will. If you are attempting to update beneficiaries under your will then you may want to just create an entirely new document rather than do this through a codicil. The reason being is that your loved one may see your original will and be upset with you about either being left out of the original version or taken out in the codicil. In those types of situations, it is better to simply have never shown that person the original will or codicil.

Creating a new will

Finally, if creating a codicil to your original will does not make sense given your circumstances, then you may be interested in having a completely new will drawn up. This would require you to go through the same process you did for the creation of your original will. However, you would be able to rely upon the structure of your original will and would probably just be updating specific language to reflect changes in beneficiaries or other details. As always, if you have questions about whether to draft an entirely new will or to simply update a will through a codicil, then you should speak with an experienced estate and probate law attorney.

Again, it would be necessary for you to completely rewrite and have a new will created for yourself if you have undergone a lot of changes. How often should you be reviewing the contents of your will to determine whether or not your will needs to be updated? A good rule of thumb for you to utilize is to review the contents of your will every four or five years. This is especially true if you have had children in this period and changed jobs. Or otherwise seen a dramatic change in the course of your life.

Updating your will after a divorce: important considerations

Additionally, the conclusion of a divorce case is a great opportunity for you to review your will and completely update a draft new document. For instance, I imagine that you would want to remove any reference to your removing them as a beneficiary of yours under the will. He would probably not want your spouse to be able to hear it properly from you after you were divorced. By the same token, if you have either married or had children since you’re will was created then that is even more reason to we’ve prepared to have a new wheel drafted. You will want to be able to make sure that your new spouse or new child is cared for under the terms of your will. You should not assume that the intestate distribution laws of Texas are fair or will be followed accurately.

There are several financial considerations to bear in mind when updating a will. For example, if you’ve acquired new property in recent years, you’ll likely want to specify who inherits it in the event of your passing. Additionally, if someone you’ve named as an executor in your will has passed away, you’ll need to update your will to appoint a new executor and secondary executor.

Inheriting property and updating your will

Another interesting scenario could involve you inheriting property after a loved one has passed away. You may want to ensure that whatever was gifted to you stays in your family or goes to a particular relative when you pass away. Sometimes if you fail to specify what you want to see happen with a particular piece of property the court may rule that the entire document as and eligible for consideration. This is a major issue and should be considered.

In conclusion, updating a will doesn’t have to be a complicated or stressful process. Drafting a will doesn’t increase the likelihood of your passing; rather, it enhances the likelihood that your family will be well cared for after you’re gone. While there’s no guarantee of future success, working with an experienced probate and estate planning attorney to update your will is one of the most responsible decisions you can make. Your family will undoubtedly appreciate your foresight and care for years to come.

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed estate and probate law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas estate planning and probate law as well as about how your family may be impacted by the filing of a probate case.


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The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it’s important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, and surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.

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