At Heritage Law Office, our experienced attorneys provide estate planning services for clients who want to secure their assets and ensure their wishes are carried out after they pass away. One of the most common questions we receive is whether clients can make changes to their estate plan after it's been created. In this article, we'll answer that question and provide guidance on how to modify your estate plan.
Before we dive into the question at hand, let's first discuss what estate planning is and how it works. Estate planning is the process of creating legal documents that outline your wishes for your assets and medical care in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself. These documents typically include a will, power of attorney, and healthcare directive.
If you die without a will, your assets will be distributed according to state law, which may not align with your wishes. By creating an estate plan, you can ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are provided for.
Can I Change My Estate Plan?
The short answer is yes, you can change your estate plan after it's been created. Life is unpredictable, and your wishes for your assets and medical care may change over time. It's important to review your estate plan regularly and make updates as necessary.
There are several reasons why you might need to change your estate plan. For example, you may have acquired new assets, such as a home or investment property, that you want to include in your plan. You may have also experienced a significant life event, such as a divorce or the birth of a child, that requires you to update your beneficiaries.
If you need to make changes to your estate plan, you have a few options. You can create a new document that replaces your existing plan, or you can create a codicil, which is a separate document that amends your existing plan. If you're making minor changes, such as updating a beneficiary or changing the name of an executor, a codicil may be sufficient. However, if you're making significant changes, it's generally better to create a new plan altogether.
How to Modify Your Estate Plan
If you've decided to modify your estate plan, there are several steps you should take to ensure that your changes are legally valid.
Review your existing plan: Before you make any changes, review your existing estate plan to ensure that you understand its provisions and how they work.
Determine what changes you need to make: Identify what changes you need to make to your plan and determine whether you need to create a new plan or a codicil.
Consult with an attorney: We highly recommend consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney before making any changes to your plan. An attorney can help ensure that your changes are legally valid and that your wishes are properly reflected in your documents.
Execute your changes: Once you've determined what changes you need to make and consulted with an attorney, you can execute your changes. This typically involves signing a new document or a codicil in the presence of witnesses.
Update your beneficiaries: After you've made changes to your estate plan, it's important to update your beneficiaries on any changes that may affect them.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney
In conclusion, yes, you can change your estate plan after it's been created. Life is unpredictable, and your wishes for your assets and medical care may change over time. If you need to make changes to your estate plan, we recommend consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that your changes are legally valid and that your wishes are properly reflected in your documents.
At Heritage Law Office, our attorneys are experienced in providing estate planning services for clients and we are here to help you navigate the process of modifying your estate plan. We understand that this can be a complex and emotional process, but we are committed to providing you with the guidance and support you need to make the best decisions for your future.
In addition to helping you modify your estate plan, we also offer a range of other estate planning services, including wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives. Our attorneys take the time to understand your unique needs and goals and work closely with you to create a customized estate plan that reflects your wishes.
If you're interested in learning more about our estate planning services or need help modifying your estate plan, please don't hesitate to contact us either online or at 414-253-8500 to schedule a free consultation today. We are here to help you protect your assets and ensure your loved ones are provided for, no matter what the future may hold.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. How often should I review my estate plan?
An estate plan is not something you set and forget. It should be reviewed every three to five years. However, major life events like marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or the death of a loved one may necessitate immediate changes. It's also wise to revisit your plan if there are significant changes in your assets or if the tax laws change.
2. Can I modify my estate plan without an attorney?
While it is technically possible to make changes to your estate plan without an attorney, it's not advisable. Estate law is complex, and small errors can have significant consequences. An experienced estate planning attorney can ensure that your changes are legally valid and your wishes are clearly articulated.
3. What is a codicil and when should it be used?
A codicil is a document that amends a portion of your existing will without rewriting the entire thing. It's typically used for simple, minor changes such as changing an executor or beneficiary. However, if there are multiple or significant changes, it might be clearer and safer to create a new will entirely to avoid any potential confusion or legal disputes.
4. What happens if my beneficiaries are not updated after modifying my estate plan?
If your beneficiaries are not updated in accordance with changes to your estate plan, there could be confusion and legal disputes after your death. The outdated estate plan may not reflect your true wishes, which could result in your assets being distributed differently than you intended.
5. Can an estate planning attorney help me with other aspects of estate planning aside from modifying the existing plan?
Yes, an estate planning attorney can assist you with a wide range of services, not limited to modification of an existing plan. They can help create new wills, trusts, power of attorneys, healthcare directives, and more. They are crucial in understanding the complex laws around estate planning and can guide you through the process, ensuring your assets and loved ones are protected.