The older a Will, the more likely that practical problems will arise when the time comes to probate it. As an example, many people invested in real estate recently needed to change their Wills because the economy forced them to sell large amounts of their real property. The sales can leave a void in an estate plan, causing beneficiaries to be unintentionally disinherited. Without a change, the Wills would fail to achieve the client’s wishes.
Additionally, a chosen executor or one of your beneficiaries may have passed away, children or grandchildren might have been born, or people you have named in your Will may have gotten married or divorced. All of these events can lead to misunderstandings and confusion about how to settle your estate.
Older Wills also cause problems when they are not self-proving, which can present an another obstacle to probate. A self-proving Will is one that includes a notarized affidavit, signed by the testator and the witnesses to the Will, in which they verify that the Will was properly signed and witnessed.
When a Will is self-proving, it can be admitted to probate without the need to find the witnesses and verify that it was signed in accordance with state laws. A Will is presumed to be valid if it has a self-proving affidavit. The longer it has been since you made a Will, the more difficult it can be to track down the witnesses, increasing the potential for litigation.
If you have not reviewed your will in a few years, now is a good time to pull it out and make sure it reflects your current circumstances. If it is out-of-date, you should meet with an estate-planning attorney and make the changes.
About the Author