People often delay updating their will for a variety of reasons. Most often, they delay due to uncertainty as to the cost or the process. Several life related factors trigger updating wills, or, at least these factors should. Continue reading to better understand when you should update your will, the process for doing so and the consequences of failing to do the update. The wills and estates lawyers at Kahane Law Office, with both Calgary and Edmonton locations, help clients both understand their options as well as facilitated any needed changes.
Factors That Trigger The Need For Updating Wills
As life progresses, many life events trigger the need for updating wills. Many people fail to consider an update as life moves on, however it remains important to do so. Ultimately, the surrogate court reviews wills before granting probate. Failing to ensure a proper estate plan ends up in front of that judicial body. For example, the following changes in your life usually require you to make a change to your will:
At one time getting married invalidated your old will. This meant that your spouse received some protection by the then intestacy laws. This is no longer the case. If you get married, updating wills helps protect your spouse to ensure that they remain looked after. When people remarry into a blended family, updating wills becomes even more crucial to ensure your children and spouse remain looked after.
Having A Baby
Once you have a baby, updating your will protects the whole family. A key aspect of estate planning when you have kids, involves a minor beneficiary trust. These trusts ensure that funds allow your child to live a normal life as well as pay for school. It also protects your child from receiving a bulk of funds when they are not mature enough to use those funds wisely. Best of all, adding this type of trust to your will, costs no more than drafting a regular will. In terms of updating wills, these additions remain simple an inexpensive to add.
Getting Separated Or Divorced
Most people want to avoid their former spouse receiving their assets. Legally, separated people remain married to one another. Updating wills when you separate or finalize your divorce, protects the other people in your life whom you wish to benefit from your estate. If you enter into a separation agreement, some aspects of your agreement potentially override your will. Ignoring these clauses often leads to estate litigation so coordinating your estate plan with your separation or divorce scenario is a key aspect that wills and estates lawyers work on.
Death Of Your Executor or Beneficiary
If someone named in your will passes away, updating your will is key. As seen below, failing to do so leads to increased stress, costs, time and even litigation. In addition, with an executor (now referred to as your personal representative) getting older, that person may lack the ability to act for you. Always make sure that you executor and/or trustee in you estate plan remains young enough to perform the tasks required if you were to pass away.
The Process For Updating Wills In Alberta
In general, two methods exist for updating wills. Specifically, these two methods include a codicil or a re-draft.
A codicil is a legal document that officially updates a will. Making changes and initialing changes on your original will does not work. The codicil method works best for minor changes. For example, if you need to change your executor or a single beneficiary. Please note, when lawyers draft a codicil for you, they simply draft the changes for you. If your original will was not a valid one to begin with, the changes often fail to fix those problems. In these cases, updating wills does not really work. You require a new will.
Re-drafting Vs Updating Wills
Re-drafting a will is simply the process of doing a new will. This process ensures that the document is valid, contains the provisions you require and meets current Alberta legal standards. While slightly more expensive than a codicil, it is less expensive than having a lawyer review your current will and then make any required changes. Further, even if your original will was valid, when you require many or complex changes to your will, updating wills this way is a more cost effective solution than a codicil.
The Cost Of Updating Wills
The cost of updating wills in Alberta is not expensive. Changes range from under $300 to under $1500 for re-doing the entire estate plan for a couple with a normal will. The cost of failing to make changes as needed often exceeds this amount. Even in an uncontested situation, the additional costs to your estate often exceed $3000. Obviously, contested estates cost the estate and your family a lot more.
The Consequences Of Failing To Make Changes To Your Will
In general, we recommend that you review your will every five years, or when a major change occurs in your life. Major life events include a birth, divorce, death, marriage or significant change in finances.
It is important to ensure that your will accurately reflects your wishes. Changes to your will should also be made under the guidance and advice of a lawyer. Simply crossing out parts of your will or handwriting in new additions is insufficient. Failing to consult a lawyer often means that the changes fail to meet legal requirements. This invalidates them and that your property distribution follows in accordance with your previous will. Your estate plan may not be carried out as you intended when it matters the most.
Keep in mind that when an individual grows older, there may be concerns that other parties or their adult children may pressure one into changing their will in his or her favour. This is called undue influence. To avoid this, if you plan on changing your will, you should see your lawyer alone to make changes without outside pressure from third parties. No one else is entitled to advise you on what you should do with your property.
Getting The Wills And Estates Help That You Need
The wills and estates lawyers at Kahane Law Office assist people every day with their estate planning needs. This includes updating wills. We help you decide which method of change works best for you as well as which changes you need. We work with you to ensure the proper drafting of your last wishes. Email us today for quick and easy information to help protect you and your family. Email our wills and estates team directly here. Also, feel free to call. In Calgary, call 403-225-8810. In Edmonton, call us at 780-571-8463.