Updating Your Estate Plan: How Many Tweaks Are Too Many

If your life or the law has changed since you signed your Will or Trust, you need to review your plan and perhaps update your plan documents. A trust can be updated by an amendment or restatement. The amendment updates just a specific part of the trust, while a restatement is a complete amendment of the entire trust. Similarly, a will can be updated by an amendment of just part of the will, called a codicil, or by completely replacing the existing will.

Make the Small Changes or Start Over with a New Document?
Imagine a recipe card passed down through the family over the years. Perhaps an ingredient that was used in the past is no longer available and a replacement has been inserted. Maybe the recipe originally listed ingredients in grams and the equivalent measurements in cups or ounces have been added. If ingredients or instructions have been crossed out and replaced, the card may still be readable. However, if the card has been altered numerous times, the recipe is probably confusing. If your loved ones cannot read your instructions to determine the accurate ingredients, measurements, or instructions, your recipe will not work. There is a chance the reader will end up making a great dish, or there may be a complete disaster.

There are similar issues when revising a will or revocable living trust. Making one or two changes to a document could still leave clear and understandable directions, but when revisions are numerous or detailed, your instructions may become confusing. The old document and each new document must be read together to understand the full instructions. Starting over with a new will or a complete restatement of the trust may serve you better.

Whether the change is made by amendment, codicil, or complete restatement, the key is that the resulting will or trust is clear in stating your instructions.

Have Questions about Updating Your Estate Plan?
Before you decide whether to make a small change or create a new will or a trust restatement, it is important to determine whether previous changes have inadvertently altered your intent or might adversely affect the will’s or trust’s administration. We will help make your instructions clear.

Do you have questions? We can provide you with answers. Whatever your circumstances, we can help you determine the best way to update your will or trust. Call us today and we will help ensure that your instructions are up to date and as clear as possible.