In Estate Planning/Wills, Helpful Articles, Wills

If you did a will some time ago, you may uneasily be wondering if you really need to update it and how best to do so.   Here’s some of the questions I ask my clients when they ask that question.

How Long has it Been?

Any will that’s five years or older may well need revision.  Clearly, if a lot has time has passed that means many of the issues addressed in your old will have changed and that does mean an update.

Have You Moved?

If you moved to Colorado from another state, then there might be changes in state law that make your old will unhelpful since it may continually refer to another state’s laws that doesn’t apply.

Have There Been Significant Changes in your Life?

Examples are that now your kids are grown, or you got a divorce or people you empowered to be in charge of your estate, or have other key roles can’t do so.  Likewise, your estate may have grown or lessened in value enough that changes really should be made.

Do You Have All the Accompanying Documents and Are they Up-to-Date?

Everyone needs an Advanced Medical Directive and Medical Durable Power of Attorney. It’s what allows someone you trust to stand in your shoes and speak to doctors on your behalf if you can’t.  That can occur for a brief period or because you’re elderly and having periods when you can’t do so or have lost ability to do so, altogether.  These documents not only confer that power but also specify important points on how you want your medical care to work, drafted now when you can clearly consider what your priorities are.

You might want a General Power of Attorney which can be highly general and in effect all the time for a wide range of powers or only if you are out of the country or unable to function for medical reasons.  It can cover things like paying bills or the range of financial issues that you might want someone to cover for you if you can’t.

A Personal Property Memorandum accomplishes a number of things; it keeps heirs from fighting over valuable items, protects your personal representative from requests that may nor may not be legitimate from family and friends, and it ensures that special items go to the people or causes you want them to go to rather than make your personal representative guess what to do with them.

A Burial Memorandum is a bit depressing, but helpful in the sense that most people don’t want their estate spent on things they might not care about yet they do typically have certain wishes they want respected.  That includes organ donation since that does require your input and must fit what you are comfortable with.

A list of Assets and Debts is an extra document I include, not to torture my clients (they’ve complained about it) but to clear up for their personal representative what they have so that there’s no confusion and its possible to locate important assets and pay actual debt.  It should be updated.  Yes, it’s a nuisance but on the bright side, it makes it easier for you to keep track of these items as well and occasionally, clients thank me because they find out important information in the process (it’s happened, really).

Can I Update My Documents On My Own?

Possibly, if you can scan and convert the documents to an editable format but consider that you might want some legal advice and at least have an attorney review to make sure the changes will work in probate court and are understandable and work across all documents involved.  We do a free  consult to take a look and help you determine if updates are needed. If so, we can occasionally revise your documents if they are in Word and are well drafted. However, if they need updating, in most cases it’s more cost effective and efficient  to get a flat fee package that redoes all the documents you need and often provides useful documents you don’t have. (We can use the old documents for information to make it faster and easier).







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