Changes to a will can be done easily and simply with a visit to an estate planning attorney’s office. Someone can also try to take the do-it-yourself route and hope that the family isn’t left with an invalid will, which means the entire estate needs to go through probate. That is not to mention the family discord that can follow when heirs expect to inherit personal property or financial assets and things have changed. This is where estate battles begin.
Dad can keep it simple, says nj.com’s recent article, “Does my dad need to pay money to get a new will?” However, doing so will likely cause more trouble for the executor and possibly, the entire family.
The father can create a written list that disposes of tangible personal property, not otherwise identified and disposed of by the will.
The list must either be in the testator’s handwriting or be signed by the testator. This list also must describe the item and the recipient clearly. This list can be created before or after the will is signed.
This list can be amended or revoked. It should be kept with the will or given to the executor, so he or she knows about it and can ensure it is followed.
This list isn’t legally enforceable. The executor may elect to honor such a distribution, assuming the beneficiaries of the other tangible personal property and/or residuary estate agree. That’s so, even if the will doesn’t reference the written list but the testator nevertheless leaves the list.
However, it would not be in the interest of the executor and may be perceived as a breach of fiduciary duty to honor such a list and make such a distribution, if the beneficiaries named in the will object. No one wants to cause a fight over the items on the list, after the parent is gone.
A revised will that is created properly by an estate planning attorney is always the better option. Protect the family from squabbles over property that could turn into estate litigation. Make an appointment with an experienced estate planning lawyer and do the right thing for the family.
Reference: nj.com (October 14, 2019) “Does my dad need to pay money to get a new will?”