Estate Planning – Changes to Existing Documents

It’s Natural to Review and Revise Your Documents Over Time, and We’re Happy to Help You Do That.

If we prepared the documents that you would like to change, then we have them in our system and can make the changes easily. We would need your instructions in clear detail – this could be an email referring to specific sections of the document, or a mark-up of a copy of the document. (Please do not mark-up the original signed document, as that would invalidate it and leave you unprotected until the new document is signed.) In order to be sure we understand your wishes clearly, it is important that we meet in person or have a call. (Please schedule this on our calendar. We cannot undertake changes without first having a meeting or a call.) Once we clearly understand your wishes, then our staff can usually turn around the changes in a week or so. This work is charged at our discounted hourly rates

Revised documents are, legally, new documents, so we need to print and sign them with the same formalities as the original documents. This is normally done in our office, where we have witnesses and notaries readily available.

If you would like us to review documents that were prepared by someone else, that’s fine, too. We will be happy to let you know if changes are needed, or if your existing documents are still serving their purpose. We have no wish to sell you anything you don’t need. But if changes are warranted, we would probably undertake our standard process for the creation of new Estate Planning documents. It is sometimes possible to write amendments to your existing documents, but will codicils can be problematic, so new documents are usually preferable.

The review would be charged at our discounted hourly rates, but if a new Estate Planning project is undertaken, then the only charge would be the flat fee for that project.

When Are Changes Needed?

Some of the events that may occasion a review or update to your documents are:

  • births

  • deaths

  • marriage

  • divorce

  • retirement

  • receipt of inheritances, or other significant changes in wealth

  • any of these events in the lives of your children or other heirs

  • changes in your relationships with the people you’ve named as executors, beneficiaries, and in other roles.

Note that some of these changes may be occasions for other kinds of planning. If you have a new child, you should really be sure to evaluate your needs for life and disability insurance. (We can make referrals to good people if you need them.) And as you move into older age, it may be prudent to see us for an Elder Planning analysis.

When Are Changes Not Needed?

  • If you move and have a new address. …But if you have moved to a new state you should check with an attorney to see if different estate tax laws apply to you, or if you need a new state-specific power of attorney.

  • If one of the people you’ve named as a fiduciary or beneficiary has died. …But you may wish to name a different fiduciary, to make sure that the role is not vacant.

  • If you acquire or sell a home or other property. Your will is designed to deal with whatever property you own at the end of your life. However, if your overall wealth has increased significantly since your documents were written, then it is prudent to review your plan, to ensure that the relevant tax issues are addressed.