Striking the Right Balance: When and How to Update Your Estate Plan

If your life or the law has changed since you created your will or trust agreement, it’s important to update it. You can update a revocable living trust by either creating an amendment or by restating the entire trust agreement. An amendment changes a specific part of the trust, while a restatement creates a new set of instructions for the entire trust.

Although you might assume that an amendment is cheaper than a restatement, that’s not always the case. If you have a will, you can make small changes or updates by creating a codicil. Alternatively, you can create a new will with updated instructions.

Make the Small Changes or Start Over with a New Document?

Think of your estate plan as a recipe card that you’ve been using for years. If you’ve made a few small changes, it’s still easy to read and follow. But if you’ve made lots of changes, it might be confusing or hard to understand. Just like with a recipe, if your instructions aren’t clear, things might not turn out the way you want them to.

That’s why it’s important to be careful when making changes to your will or revocable living trust. If you’ve made too many changes, it might be better to start over with a new document to make sure your wishes are clear and easy to follow.

There isn’t a clear rule about whether you should use a small change document like a codicil or amendment, or a big change document like a new will or trust restatement when making changes to your estate plan. It really depends on the specific changes you need to make and how extensive they are. A general guideline is that anytime you are making more than two changes, creating a new will or restatement is probably better because of the following reason:

  • Fosters ease of understanding and administration;
  • Tends to avoid ambiguity;
  • Reduces the amount of paperwork to retain and provide to financial institutions or parties;
  • Decreases the risk of misplacement;
  • Prevents beneficiaries from discovering prior terms; and
  • Provides an opportunity to include other relevant updates, such as changes in the law.

We can help

If you’re thinking about making changes to your will or trust, it’s important to consider whether any previous changes might have unintentionally changed what you wanted or made it harder to manage your will or trust.

We can help you make sure your instructions are clear and easy to understand. If you have any questions, don’t worry, we can answer them for you. No matter what your situation is, we can help you figure out the best way to update your will or trust.

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