Thanks to “entropy” (the Second Law of Thermodynamics), everything in creation requires an “amendment” from time to time.
This very law applies to estate plans, too.
You have an estate plan in place.
You worked with an estate planning attorney.
It met all of your needs to protect everyone your love and everything you have.
Or, at least it did.
According to a recent Lake County Record-Bee article titled “Amending estate planning documents,” your circumstances likely will change.
When “life happens” for you, make sure you update your estate plan without delay.
How does one update an estate plan?
To amend your estate plan, it must be done legally.
This depends on the type of documents used and the laws of your state of residence.
For example, one can amend a trust in California if the method of change is outlined within the trust.
Even so, simply making handwritten edits is insufficient anywhere when seeking to amend a trust.
The best course of action is to work with your original estate planning attorney to make and execute any desired changes.
What should you do if you have a last will and testament as the foundation to your estate plan?
You have a couple of options.
The first is to execute a “codicil” to the will.
A codicil is an update or change to some but not all provisions of the will.
The other option?
Create a brand-new will and thereby completely revoke the former will (and any codicils thereto).
Either way you will need to sign the codicil or new will before at least two witnesses, along with any additional state-specific requirements for lawful will execution.
The exception would be if you were to live in a state where holographic (i.e., handwritten) wills are accepted.
Bottom line: be careful when attempting to make amendments on your own.
This is not a DIY project.
Your actions could be contested by your family and friends, especially any disgruntled ones.
The best option is to leave nothing up to chance when facing down entropy.
Work with an experienced estate planning to amend your estate plan according to the laws of your state.
Reference: Lake County Record-Bee (October 5, 2019) “Amending estate planning documents.”