There are many reasons why clients may choose to revoke a will. 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 may no longer reflect an accurate snapshot of your life or your wishes. At this point, a Pittsburgh will lawyer may recommend revoking an older will that no longer meets your needs.
A common misconception is that revoking an existing will may reinstate a previous one. While this can happen, it is rare. More commonly, when a will is revoked and not replaced with something else, the courts will step in as if there had never been a will in the first place, and your estate will be distributed according to the laws of the state.
Alternatively, when a new will is created, the old one is no longer in effect. If a client does wish to reinstate a previous version of their will instead of creating a 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, and a simple mistake or oversight could open the door for messy and expensive court battles when you are gone.
One thing you should not do if you wish to change your will is to write your changes directly on the document. As a will lawyer, I can share with you countless stories of handwritten amendments to wills 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 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 you’d like to speak with a will lawyer to start the process, we invite you to contact our office to schedule a consultation.