What is the best way to revoke or change your existing Last Will and Testament? As with many things in law, it depends on your individual circumstance. Some common reasons you may wish to revoke or change your Last Will and Testament include:
• You, a fiduciary, or a beneficiary has changed their name;
• You are recently divorced;
• You wish to add, delete or change beneficiaries;
• You have sold, transferred or gifted away assets previously included in your Will;
• You have acquired new assets you wish to leave to a specific beneficiary;
• Your financial status has changed and your estate could now benefit from more sophisticated tax planning;
• You have married or remarried;
• Your family has grown, either by birth or adoption;
• One of your named beneficiaries is now receiving government assistance for a disability and an inheritance from you may disqualify them from such program;
• Your spouse or another named beneficiary under your will has died;
• Your beneficiary’s life is unstable (financially irresponsible, drug or alcohol abuse, credit problems, rocky marriage, etc.) and you now wish to include some type of limitation or protection for their inheritance.
In Kansas, you can revoke your existing Last Will and Testament in one of three ways: 1) Revoke your original Last Will and Testament in writing; 2) Destroy your original Last Will and Testament and all copies; or 3) Execute a new Last Will and Testament that includes a provision stating that it replaces all previous Wills and Codicils signed by you. In practicality, you also can sell or gift away all of your assets during your lifetime or set up all of your assets to transfer by way of beneficiary designations at the time of your death and nullify the effects of your written Will.
A word of caution however: NEVER, EVER destroy your original Last Will and Testament before you have
properly executed a new Will. You run the risk of having no estate planning protection for your loved ones should you die in the interim between destroying your original Will and executing your new Will. Additionally, in the state of Kansas, if you make handwritten notes on your original Last Will and Testament, a court may determine that the entirety of your Will is invalid.
If you wish to make changes to your Will in Kansas, you may do so by properly executing an entirely new Last Will and Testament or a Codicil to your current Last Will and Testament. A Codicil is simply a document that amends a small portion of your existing Will. It is executed in the same fashion as a Last Will and Testament.
Most attorneys and individuals prefer to draft an entirely new Last Will and Testament, instead of using a Codicil, since your Last Will and Testament and any Codicils will be filed publicly with the probate court at your death. Additionally, it is often easier to contest a Will with multiple Codicils filed in the court, a Codicil could get separated from its original Will, and clients often desire to keep private any changes that they have made to a previous Last Will and Testament.
If you have a question about revising or revoking your existing Last Will and Testament, contact Davis & McCann, P. A., Dodge City, KS. We are members of Wealth Counsel, a national consortium of Estate Planning Attorneys and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). We focus our practice on providing clients with the best legal advice on estate planning, Medicaid and long-term care planning, business formation, family business/small business succession planning, probate, trust administration, real estate, and related matters.
NEWS YOU CAN USE
Davis & McCann, P. A.,