Ask an Estate Planning Lawyer: Can I Just Throw Away My Old Will and Start Over?

One thing the COVID-19 crisis has brought to the forefront of many people’s minds is the need to update older estate plans, including their Last Will and Testaments. We were collectively reminded that having an updated estate plan is incredibly important, no matter how old you are. In general, an estate planning lawyer will suggest updating your estate plan every three to five years.

The reason for this is simple: a lot can change in that time. A child can go from middle school to adulthood. Babies are born, marriages end and begin, finances, homes, and jobs could change. After many of these changes, people wonder if they need to rip up their old estate plan and start over fresh in order to have documents that accurately reflect their life.

But, ripping up your documents is not the correct way to revoke an older plan and could actually cause problems for your family. Instead, to have an updated plan that is recognized by the courts, you must have an estate planning attorney revoke your old documents and replace them with your new estate plan.

If it’s necessary to revoke and replace an older Last Will and Testament, your estate planning lawyer will likely suggest reviewing your other estate planning documents. That may include refreshing an older power of attorney, creating an updated medical directive, or changing out the people you’ve named in helper roles in your plan, like your Executor or Trustee.

The bottom line is that if you want to make changes to an older plan, do it with the help of an experienced estate planning lawyer. There are legal steps that must be taken to ensure that your new documents are valid and that old documents no longer carry weight in the eyes of the court. The last thing you want is your family coming up with multiple copies of older wills and fighting over which will should stand after your passing.

If you’re thinking of updating an older plan, or you’d like to revoke an older will and create a new one, we invite you to contact our office at (888) 719-5589 to schedule a consultation with an estate planning lawyer. 

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