How to make modifications to a will

Taking even the most basic steps can be huge when it comes to estate planning. After all, this often means that an individual in California is prepared to confront the reality of his or her mortality with an eye on the futures of those he or she loves. While estate planning should occur early in an individual's life, it should also occur often. The accumulation of assets, the addition and loss of family members, and personal preferences can change over the years. Any of these changes may justify modification of an estate plan.

There are some significant life events that warrant revisiting a will, which can play an important role in any estate plan. Marriage, divorce, the birth of a child and the addition of stepchildren can all cause an individual to want to change his or her will. Another time when it might be wise to modify a will is when an individual takes on a new partner. If the couple is not legally married, and if they are not registered, then a surviving partner may be left with little, if anything, in the event of the other's passing. A will veers away from this default.

There are a couple of ways in which a will can be changed. The first, and probably the most effective, is to revoke an existing will to replace it with a new one. Revoking the old will is simple. An individual merely needs to indicate that the new will replaces any prior existing wills and modifications, known as codicils. Although an individual can still use codicils to amend an existing will, they are usually best to steer clear of, as they can often create confusion and ambiguity.

To ensure that one's estate is distributed according to an individual's wishes, he or she needs to ensure that estate planning becomes a common occurrence rather than a one-time thing. Revisiting an estate plan can have enormous benefits, especially as families change, assets are acquired and the law changes.

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