How Old Is Your Will? Why Updating It Makes Sense

Having a last will and testament means you've created the main part of a complete estate plan. Just as events in your life change, however, that will should be updated on a regular basis. If you don't take care and attend to this task, the consequences for your loved ones can be considerable. Instead of leaving them to deal with the problems that an outdated will could bring, read below about why an old will could be a bad will.

Estate Property and Blanket Wills

You might never pay much heed to what happens when property addressed in a will no longer exists. In some cases, property that has been sold, lost, stolen, or given away poses no problem. Many people create what might be called a blanket will. The blanket will is simple to make. The property holdings of the deceased are inventoried and a value is assigned during probate. Once all estate debts have been paid and probate is complete, the beneficiaries named in a blanket will can take ownership of the property. Blanket wills name no names, at times, and never specifically name property. The will just states that all property is to be equally divided between surviving children.

This type of will is often prepared by a husband and wife with the estate going to each other and then to the children when each of them has passed. Hard assets, like real estate and vehicles, are dealt with by either dividing them up according to value or by selling the asset and dividing the proceeds.

Estate Property and Single Asset Beneficiaries

This manner of making out a will is more detailed. Here, the benefactor lists specific pieces of property and assigns it to a beneficiary. Unfortunately, if the property named is a liquid asset like cash or gold, that asset takes precedence over hard assets when something is missing. For example, in this type of will, a silver service set is left to a daughter. Unfortunately, thieves broke into the home and the silver is now missing. The daughter will not receive the silver and there are no provisions for substituting something else. On the other hand, if the daughter was left $7,500 in cash from a savings account, the daughter must receive that money even if the account was emptied and closed years ago. If there are no other liquid assets available to substitute for the cash, other property must be sold, even at the detriment of other beneficiaries. This is known as ademption and is one serious consequence of failing to update a will when an asset is no longer available.

Speak to your probate lawyer to learn more.