Updating Your Will? Bronx Estate Planning Lawyer Jules Haas Will Help

Bronx estate planning lawyer Jules Haas’ guide to updating and revoking wills

Which financial changes require an update to your will, and which do not? Which life events change the conditions of your will so completely that it makes more sense to revoke the current will and write a new one? What are the similar processes for updating and revoking trusts?

Bronx estate planning lawyer Jules Haas wants to make sure that families throughout New York have the information to protect their assets and loved ones. Do you have any major changes on the horizon or in the recent past? Has it been three or four years since you last looked at your estate planning papers?

For families with large or small estates, complicated family relations, and situations that require extra planning (for example, ensuring a special needs child’s lifelong financial safety), estate planning is not a one-time commitment. The fate of your estate changes as state and federal laws change, and as your life changes.

Whether you are just starting out professionally in Manhattan, you are at the height of your earnings in Poughkeepsie, or you are in your first wonderful years of retirement in the Bronx, estate lawyer Jules Haas can help you make sure your will reflects your wishes as they are right now.

Bronx estate planning lawyer Jules Haas’ updating, amending and revoking FAQs

Q. When do I need to update or rewrite my will?

A. It is good to check your will and other estate planning documents every three years or so, but an easier way to stay on top of your changing estate planning needs is to make modifications when you experience significant changes in your income, assets, and family.

Marriage, divorce, death in the family (especially among beneficiaries), physical and mental changes in beneficiaries and trustees and executors, a change in location, a change in income, a change in state or federal tax laws, a new child, a change in your business, the purchase of a home, or other asset—all of these are reasons to certainly update and sometimes revoke and rewrite your will.

Q. Why do I need to update my will? What will happen if I don’t?

A. Say you have a child and do not update your will, or you marry and do not update your will. Estate laws may not give your child or your spouse the share of your estate that you desired. A child does not have an absolute right in New York to receive a share of an estate when there is a valid will. If the Will disinherits the child, even unintentionally, the child may not receive anything. When a person dies intestate (without a will), a portion of the estate goes to the spouse and children. However, if your will makes no mention of your spouse or child, they may not be adequately taken care of. As noted above, the law in New York allows a parent to disinherit a child entirely and provides for a spouse to elect against a Will and receive only a limited share if disinherited.

When you make a change to your will by an amendment, it is called executing a codicil. A codicil is a paper modifying your will.

If you do not update your will it may not reflect your current situation, and depending on what your current situation is, this may result in higher taxes for your estate, or a longer probate process.

Q. Why would you revoke and rewrite the will if you can just update it?

A. As Bronx estate planning lawyer Jules Haas wrote in a January 2012 blog post, multiple codicils can cause confusion, as in the case of one will brought before the Nassau County Surrogate’s Court.

In order to avoid inconsistencies between multiple Codicils and a Last Will, it would be preferable to rewrite and revise the entire Last Will and incorporate all of the modifications into a single document.

The decedent in the case mentioned in the blog post referred to above had made six codicils to the original will. Though the changes may be small, if they become numerous, you may want to revoke the old will entirely to avoid confusion. For large changes like divorce, a rapid change in financial status, becoming an empty-nester, or having a late-in-life child, revoking your will may be the best option, as the assumptions underlying your previous will are no longer accurate.

To clients in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx, estate planning lawyer Jules Haas has been a source of continuing legal guidance. This FAQ on updating and revoking wills and trusts is meant to answer some questions many people have about making changes to their estate plans. For more in-depth answers, contact Mr. Haas at telephone number: (212) 355-2575 or email: jules.haas@verizon.net to schedule your free consultation