You have a Last Will & Testament that you created a few years ago, which describes how you want your family to settle your estate after you pass away. However, as your life changes and evolves, you now may have to consider a codicil to your Last Will & Testament.
“Codicil” refers to the process of amending or updating various aspects of your will. For example, you may want to update your beneficiary designations or make changes based on your marital status. Our estate planning attorneys want to describe five ways of knowing that now is the time to make a codicil to a Last Will & Testament:
#1 – You Recently Had a Change in Marital Status
Marriage – and divorce – are valid reasons for a codicil to a Last Will & Testament, or in some cases to completely re-work your overall estate plan. The surviving spouse is often the primary beneficiary with an estate plan and they usually receive the entire estate; however, if you were to separate from your significant other, you should immediately update your plan (you wouldn’t want your estate to have any chance of passing to your ex). Similarly, if you marry after creating your plan, you may want to update to actually provide for the new spouse.
#2 – A Close Relative Recently Passed Award
A death of anyone named within your documents is certainly cause to review the plan. You may also want to revisit your plan if one of your relatives – such as a parent, cousin, aunt, uncle, sibling, etc. – recently passed away. This can be significant to your estate plan because the deceased individual could also be a beneficiary, whether directly named or through a contingency. If this is the case, you’ll need to update your estate plan because the family member won’t be alive to receive an inheritance.
#3 – You Started Accumulating More Wealth
A bad piece of estate planning advice that you may have received is that an increase in wealth is no reason to review your estate planning. However, another reason to make a codicil to a Last Will & Testament, or to add additional techniques into an estate plan, is when you take on a better-paying job, receive a promotion, or accumulate more wealth in general. Your estate will now be worth a lot more money and will likely involve real property, which means that you have more assets to oversee and secure. Your estate plan should reflect your financial standing, and a significant increase in wealth or assets is great cause to revisit your plan and ensure everything is optimized.
#4 – You Want to Rename Your Executor
The executor serves an important role – they’re responsible for administering your estate after you pass away. The executor performs various tasks, such as paying off unresolved debts, maintaining detailed accounts of your assets, and ensures that beneficiaries receive their inheritances. If you believe that you need to rename your executor, you should never hesitate to do so. Neglecting to do so could be a devastating estate planning mistake. This will be one of the most common updates that many make to their Last Will and Testament.
#5 – You Had a Falling Out Between Family Members
Although it’s always possible to reconcile any differences among family members, sometimes the damage is irreparable. If you have a beneficiary you now want to exclude from receiving an inheritance, you can always revise your will. Ultimately, the goal of your estate plan is to ensure that your last wishes are honored by surviving family members. When you become certain that you do not wish for a particular person to inherit, you must update your documents with your newest wishes.
Make a Codicil to a Last Will & Testament
Updating your original will and creating an estate plan will generally require assistance from a trusted attorney. That’s why you should schedule an appointment with one of the legal experts here at Jenkins & Jenkins Estate Planning Attorneys in San Diego. We ensure Californians can protect their assets and adequately prepare for the future.