A will can be a critical part of an estate plan. It can help delineate how assets will be distributed upon an individual's passing, and, when clearly written, it can prevent disputes from arising. However, a will is only effective if it accurately reflects an individual's wishes at the time he or she passes. This means that the mere creation of a will is not enough. Instead, those who create a will should revisit the document to ensure that it clearly reflects their wishes in the midst of life changes.
There are many events that may justify the changing of a will. The birth of a child may drive a grandparent to include that child in the will for purposes of asset distribution. A divorce, on the other hand, may cause an individual to decide that he or she no longer wishes to leave assets to the person who is no longer a part of the family. People may need to be added to wills in various situations, including when a new partner is obtained or step-children come into the picture. A will may also need changing when new assets are required. Failing to modify a will accordingly can result in unwanted consequences.
So how is a will changed? The most effective way is to revoke the old will and simply create a new one to reflect one's changed position. Although a will may be changed via written amendment known as a codicil, these documents may lead to confusion and dispute because they can be lost or misinterpreted. This is why revocation and creation of a new will is usually optimal.
Changes to an estate plan need to be handled competently, though. An estate that ends up being litigated because of unclear terms can be extremely costly and result in individuals who were never intended to receive property taking a fair share of estate assets. Therefore, those who would like more guidance on how to most effectively engage in estate planning should sit down with an estate planning attorney they can trust.