You may be afraid of losing your home if you have to enter a nursing home and apply for Medicaid. While this fear is well-fou...Read more
5 Ways Your Will Can Become Useless, Or Close to It
- March 1st, 2012
Is having an out-of-date will better than having no will at all? While wills do not have expiration dates, certain changes can render them useless. When this happens, having an out-of-date will can be the same as having no will at all. It is important to review your will periodically to ensure it still does what you want. The following are five ways your will can become out-of-date:
- Your beneficiaries have died. What happens if your will leaves your estate to your two siblings, but both siblings die before you? If your beneficiaries predecease you, your will is still technically valid, but it will have no effect on who will inherit from your estate. Instead, your estate will be distributed according to the law in your state, just as if you had died with no will at all.
- You have potential new beneficiaries. A will that was written before you got married or had children will be of little assistance in distributing your estate. States have provisions that protect spouses and children that come after a will is written. In most states, spouses are entitled to a certain percentage of an estate. In addition, many states have laws that protect children born after a will was written, allowing them to inherit from the estate. It's possible that under the laws of your state, a spouse and children not named in your will may not receive as much as you would have wanted them to. In both of these circumstances, state law is dictating where your estate is going, not you.
- Your executor is dead or unable to serve. The executor (also called a personal representative) is the person named in your will who oversees the distribution of your property. If the person you named as executor is unable to serve, the court will have to appoint someone else. Beneficiaries may have a say in who is chosen, but it may not be someone you would have wanted in the position.
- You no longer own property named in the will. Suppose your will attempts to divide up your estate equally by giving cash to your daughter and property of equal value to your son. If the property is sold before you die, your son will receive nothing. In this case, your will is no longer ensuring your estate is divided equally.
- The law changes. If your estate plan was designed specifically to avoid estate taxes and the estate tax law changes, your will may no longer serve its purpose.
Contact your attorney to ensure your will is still up to date.
For more information on when to update your will, click here.
Local Elder Law Attorneys in Ashburn, VA
Hale Ball Carlson Baumgartner Murphy PLC
Attorney Samantha Simmons Fredieu is an associate at Hale Ball. Ms. Fredieu graduated magna cum laude from Vermont Law School where she was the symposium editor on the Vermont Law Review, a production editor on the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, and a member of the Moot Court Advisory Board. She has clerked for...
Law Offices of John L. Laster
John Laster is a lawyer licensed to practice in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. He limits his practice to wealth transfer planning, trusts, wills, powers of attorney, health care decision-making issues, estate administration and related tax, elder law and disability concerns. Listed in The Best Lawyers...
Margaret A. O'Reilly, PC
Margaret A. O’Reilly is an estate planning and elder law attorney with over thirty-five years of legal experience. Attorney O’Reilly graduated from Duke University with a degree in psychology, and received her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts. For over 15 y...