What should I do with my outdated will?

On Behalf of | Dec 8, 2023 | Estate Planning

Life is dynamic, and your financial, familial or personal situations may have evolved since you first drafted your will. Significant life transitions such as marriage, divorce, a new addition to the family or changes in financial status can significantly impact your preferences for asset distribution and beneficiaries.

When this happens, updating a will to reflect your current wishes is crucial. Failing to update a will could lead to complications during the probate process, potentially resulting in unintended consequences. Essentially, it’s normal for people to create multiple wills throughout their lifetime as they transition through various phases of life. If this describes your current predicament, you may be wondering what to do with your old, outdated wills. 

Safely destroying your old will

You can revoke a will by physically destroying it with the intent to revoke it. This means you can cancel, tear, obliterate or burn your will, or direct another person to do the same in your presence. 

Once you’ve made the decision to update your will, consider secure methods of destruction. Document shredding services provide a confidential and foolproof way to dispose of sensitive legal documents. Try to ensure that every copy of your outdated will is destroyed to prevent any potential confusion.

Drafting a new will

When drafting your new will, take the time to articulate your wishes clearly. Specify the distribution of assets, guardianship arrangements for minors and any specific bequests. Being precise and unambiguous reduces the likelihood of disputes and helps ensure your intentions are carried out as intended.

Remember, while making amendments directly to your old will may be tempting, this practice can lead to legal complications. Crossing out or adding clauses may create ambiguity and disputes during probate. It’s safer and more legally sound to create an entirely new document.

Responsibly handling your outdated will is a crucial aspect of estate planning. You affirm that your final wishes are accurately represented by acknowledging the necessity of change and promptly updating and destroying your old will. Seeking legal counsel and following proper legal procedures are essential steps in this process.

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