Lawyer holding last will and testament document

Reviewing and Updating Your Will

Gregory, L. Williams, Jr., Esq., Partner.  Aug. 17, 2023

A last will and testament is the basic building block of estate planning. It allows you to designate assets to your loved ones when you’re gone and name a guardian for your minor children. Even though only about 40 percent of Americans even have a will, it is a vital document to provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones as you venture through life. 

A will, however, as one’s life evolves and moves forward, must be reviewed and adjusted to reflect changes, either personal or in the law governing where you live. IRS estate tax exemptions are set to expire in 2025, and you may need to take that into consideration. Needless to say, if you divorce or remarry, then you will need to create a new will. 

For all your estate planning needs in or around Columbus, Ohio, including a review of your existing will to make sure it still addresses all your concerns and realities, contact me. I have helped countless others in Central Ohio create a will and plan for the future security of their loved ones. I stand ready to help you, too. 

Requirements for a Valid Will in Ohio

To create a last will and testament, you must be 18 years of age or older and of sound mind. You must also sign the document in front of two witnesses who are not named in your will. In other words, they will not benefit from anything you’re doing. 

Updating Your Will

You can never be too young or too old to create a will, but you can be too late. Likewise, you can cause problems for yourself and your loved ones if you fail to review and update your will, which should probably be done annually. Life changes, so those changes should be reflected in your estate planning. 

Circumstances that demand you update your will or create a new one include: 

  • MARRYING OR DIVORCING: Marriage and divorce are huge life-changing events. If you have a will leaving everything to a previous spouse and don’t update it, your heirs and loved ones may have a difficult challenge when the will goes through probate. If you marry or divorce, you need to not only review your existing will but create a new one to replace it. Better safe than sorry, as the saying goes. 

  • GAINING OR LOSING ASSETS: If you have an art collection, for example, and you sell it to cover medical expenses for you or someone in your family, but the collection is being bequeathed in your will, you will have to change the will or create a new one. The person or persons to whom you bequeathed the collection will otherwise be out of luck. 

  • ADDING OR LOSING CHILDREN: If you bring a new child into the world but your existing will doesn’t reflect this, that child could challenge your will when you’re gone. Similarly, if a child of yours passes on before you and that child has children, they could challenge your will as well when it goes through probate. 

  • LOSING BENEFICIARIES: If a beneficiary dies before you, you will need to reflect that in your will through a codicil or a new will. 

  • LOSING YOUR PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE: Likewise, if the personal representative you name in your will to administer your estate when you’re gone dies or moves out of state, you will have to name a replacement. 

  • REPLACING WITNESSES: Those who witnessed your signing of the will can be instrumental in verifying the validity of your document. If they die or move away, you may want to create a new will witnessed by others. 

Codicil or New Will?

A codicil is a legal term for an amendment you add to your will. For instance, if you want to name a new personal representative, who will become the executor of your estate, you could create a codicil. However, a codicil must be witnessed by two disinterested parties just like a will, so it is often the better approach just to void the previous will and create a new one. 

Let My Experience Guide You

A last will and testament needs to be properly thought out and well-crafted to prevent legal challenges and to make it clear what your wishes are. Wills can also get out of date, as detailed above, and they need to be revisited and updated.  

If you’re in or around Columbus or anywhere in Central Ohio, contact me with all your questions and concerns. I will provide you with one-on-one personalized service for all your estate planning needs.