As life's end becomes less abstract, people have a tendency to revisit their Last Will and Testament. Consequently, some of them decide to radically change their plans. What about your Last Will and Testament?
The Wall Street Journal considered this matter in a recent article titled “Changing a Will at the Last Minute”
As you can imagine, a Last Will is an important document. Not surprisingly, drafting a Last Will “on the fly” or redrafting one from your hospital bed raises a red flag. Since your Last Will expresses your final intentions in black and white, if there is any room to question the truth, seriousness, or sanity (yes, that is a big one) of your black and white intentions, then the entire plan can be thrown out.
Against this backdrop, pause for a moment of serious self-reflection before making any changes to your Last Will under circumstances that could attract greater scrutiny later. For example, ask yourself “why do I need to make this change now and did not make it earlier?”
The simple truth, of course, is that your last-minute revision can be utterly intentional and utterly necessary. For one, our thoughts about life, family and charity likely become crystal clear when the end becomes real. There may be every reason in the world certain changes must be made now and not before.
Then, again, external factors may necessitate a change or two. The legal environment changes constantly and sometimes the Last Will must be updated to save the family fortune from taxes or protect loved ones.
Bottom line: there ought be a seriousness and thoroughness to your planning even when life's finish line is in sight. Last minute revisions to your Last Will might be required, but they must be done correctly or risk causing more harm than good. For that matter, proper planning now may make it less likely that you will need to annotate or change your Last Will later.
In the end, successful estate planning at any stage means working closely with competent estate planning counsel, someone who has “seen it all.” This is not a “do-it-yourself project.”
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri) and to download free tools to help you organize your estate, visit my estate planning website.
Reference: The Wall Street Journal (November 10, 2013) “Changing a Will at the Last Minute”