Why wills sometimes need to be updated or changed

Long after a will has been drafted, the life circumstances of the New Jersey testator may have changed in a dramatic way. People may have gotten married, new children may have been born, the maker may have divorced, a spouse may have died or the maker may have simply reached middle age. A regular review of an existing will may review updates or changes that are needed in order to reflect the maker's estate and beneficiaries correctly.

Marriage, divorce and new children can all result in needed will modifications. In the case of a divorce, a will may need to be entirely rewritten or it may be invalidated by the court. In some cases, a court will determine the entire will is invalid if the ex-spouse is the named beneficiary, disregarding it and thus leaving the estate to pass to heirs according to the intestacy laws. A person who remarries may want to ensure that children from a prior marriage inherit while also protecting the new spouse. Failing to make updates regarding either could lead to unintentional disinheritance.

When a spouse dies, a will needs to be changed accordingly. If a will was drafted when a person was younger, a revisit to the will may be needed as the person reaches middle age. Making certain all assets are included in the will can be important to avoid later disputes between heirs.

Wills are meant to ensure the testator's wishes are followed upon death. By revisiting the will on a regular basis, the maker can make certain it is current and accurately reflects the current estate, intended beneficiaries and assets. Those who have a will may wish to review it with their estate planning attorney on a regular basis.

Source: Kiplinger , "Good Reasons to Change Your Will", December 29, 2014

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