When Should I Make Changes to my Will?


We understand just how uncomfortable it can be to give much thought to your own mortality. Sometimes, however, it’s necessary to put your discomfort aside in order to do the right thing, which, in this case, is setting up an Estate Plan.

Otherwise referred to as a “will” or Last Will & Testament, having an Estate Plan in place means that your loved ones will have the guidance they need after your passing in order to make decisions on your behalf. Keeping your Estate Plan updated means that you may be able to keep your dearest family members and friends out of major disagreements that can be extremely harmful during the mourning period.

Assuming that you already have a will in place, many people wonder if and when it is necessary to make changes to their Estate Plan. After all, our world is an ever-changing place, and naturally, so are our lives. What we set into place five years ago may be obsolete today.

Consider making formal changes to your New Jersey Estate Plan if:

  • Your love life blossoms – Whether you get married or enter into a long-term committed relationship, it’s important to add your significant other to your will, because without doing so, your legal partner has a right to half of your property and a partner that is not legally recognized will get nothing. If you object to either of those situations, you need to put it in writing.


  • A marriage ends in divorce – Although most states automatically revoke any property rights from a former spouse as soon as a divorce is finalized, some states do not. It’s important to check. Also, it’s entirely possible that you may still want to include your ex-spouse in your will, especially if you have children together. If that’s the case, you may have to “write them back in.” You may also need to make changes if someone named in your will gets divorced – for example if your daughter divorces her husband, you may no longer want him to be named in your will.


  • You hear the pitter patter of little feet – Whether you give birth to, adopt, or gain step-children by marriage, you’ll want to ensure they are cared for in the event of your passing. Children are automatically given certain rights to some of your property, so if you want to be specific about who will receive what, be sure to put that in your Estate Plan. Also note that step-children are not automatically entitled to inherit anything from you, but most step-parents do want to include them.


  • You have a change of heart – Let’s face it – things happen in life, and that’s putting it mildly. Oftentimes, people change their mind about who they’d like to leave part or all of their property to – due to special or unforeseen circumstances not listed above. The important thing is making sure it’s in writing, because otherwise, you’ll be shaking your fist from beyond.


But How Do I Change My Will?

You can make changes to your will by speaking to an attorney who specializes in NJ Estate Planning. He will help you modify your paperwork by adding a codicil or by writing a completely new Estate Plan. A codicil is an amendment or a “PS” to an Estate Plan document that overwrites part of your will or adds new provisions. If you decide to add a codicil, it must be signed and legally witnessed exactly as your original Estate Plan was in order to be legal. Today, it is usually much easier to create a completely new Estate Plan, stating in which that you revoke all past wills and codicils. This helps to avoid any confusion regarding which papers are most current and accurate at the time that they become necessary.

Image credit: Walter

One Response to When Should I Make Changes to my Will?

  1. Pingback: My Husband Never Listed Me on his Life Insurance Policy! | Veitengruber Law

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