There are many reasons why clients may choose to revoke a will or Trust. Things change; you may experience a change in your financial situation, your family dynamic or you may even change your mind. Due to such changes, your will or Trust may no longer reflect an accurate snapshot of your life or your wishes. At this point, a Santa Cruz will and trust lawyer may recommend revoking an older will or Trust that no longer meets your needs.
Misconceptions about revoking a will or Trust
A common misconception is that revoking an existing will or Trust may reinstate a previous one. While this can happen, it is rare. More commonly, when a will or Trust is revoked and not replaced with something else, the courts will step in as if there had never been a will or Trust in the first place and your estate will be distributed according to the laws of the state.
Alternatively, when a new will or Trust is created, the old one is no longer in effect. If a client does wish to reinstate a previous version of their will or Trust instead of creating brand-new document, it is a process that should only be done with the help of an experienced attorney. There are formal steps that must be followed to reinstate an older will or Trust, and a simple mistake or oversight could open the door for messy and expensive court battles when you are gone.
What not to do when revoking a will or Trust
One thing you should not do if you wish to change your will or Trust is to write your changes directly on the document. Our Santa Cruz will and trust lawyers can share with you countless stories of handwritten amendments to wills and trusts gone terribly wrong. Or, you can simply look to famous examples (such as the dispute over Aretha Franklin’s handwritten will) for clear and compelling reasons to avoid this “DIY” option.
Estate planning can be an overwhelming process, but an experienced attorney will help to ensure that you are updating or changing your will or Trust in a way that is compliant with laws in the state where you live. And, your attorney will ensure that your document is created in such a way that will minimize conflict amongst heirs if you anticipate that some may not be happy with your changes.
If you have questions about changing or updating your will or Trust, or you’d like to speak with one of our Santa Cruz will attorneys to start the process, we invite you to contact our office at (800) 244-8814 to schedule a consultation.