It is very common for people to want to update their will, and doing so often makes sense to account for changes in a person’s life. Virginia law makes it relatively easy to update a will, although making sure that formalities are followed is critical to the changes being made effective. Furthermore, updating a will is a great time to speak with an estate attorney to assess your overall financial picture with regard to how updating your will along with incorporating other estate planning instruments can best provide for you and your family for decades to come.
Common Reasons for Updating a Will
There are two primary reasons for having a will: 1) making sure that your family and loved ones are taken care of to the best extent possible following your death; and 2) providing clear instructions on what should happen to your assets following your death. Without a will, the Virginia courts will simply apply state intestacy law to distribute your assets, regardless of what promises or other statements you may have made regarding what should happen to your property.
Many people smartly create a will relatively early in life to achieve these goals, with the understanding that death can unfortunately come at any time. But as they move through adulthood, their lives can obviously change in ways that deeply impact both the assets they own as well as the people in their lives that they want to benefit. Furthermore, many people create a basic will at some point without understanding more nuanced, strategic estate planning methods that more clearly fit their situation while providing additional protections and benefits for beneficiaries than simply passing property via a will.
With those issues in mind, common reasons for updating a will include:
- A new birth of a child or adoption of a child
- A new marriage, either of the testator (the person making the will) or someone in the testator’s family
- A divorce from a previous marriage in the family
- The death or estrangement of a beneficiary named in the will
- The new presence or departure of another friend or loved one that the testator wants to benefit
- The loss of property that was mentioned in a previous will
- The addition of new property (e.g. real estate, a boat, investments, an heirloom, etc.) that was not previously mentioned in a will
- The desire to incorporate other estate planning instruments into a will, including trusts, annuities, life insurance, etc.
How to Update Your Will
Again, Virginia makes updating a will a relatively easy process, but it must be done correctly to be valid. A person can update a will through validly executing a codicil which is a legal document updating and/or modifying a previous will which must be signed by the testator and two witnesses. A person can also create a whole new will which expressly revokes a prior will altogether.
Working with an estate planning attorney to create a codicil or new will is recommended to ensure that all state requirements are met. Furthermore, an estate planning attorney can provide you with options for meeting your estate planning goals through incorporation of other instruments such as trusts to provide for your beneficiaries in ways that best honor your wishes and protect your assets.
Contact a VA Estate Lawyer Today to Create or Update Your Will
By working with an experienced estate planning to create or update your will, you can ensure that your will is clear, comprehensive, and is in accord with all applicable Virginia state laws with respect to formation, spousal issues, and other concerns. At Kurylo Gold & Josey, PLC in Fredericksburg, we are here to answer all of your questions related to estate planning and help you create or update a will that serves your estate planning goals. To schedule a consultation with one of our Virginia estate planning attorneys, contact Kurylo Gold & Josey, PLC at 540.642.1766.