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What happens when an estate plan is significantly outdated?

| May 21, 2021 | Estate Planning

Writing a last will often requires a bit of time and emotional investment. When someone has already taken that step, they may act as though they don’t have to worry about their legacy or their dependents anymore.

However, the truth is that the average estate plan will likely require multiple revisions as the testator has life changes over time. Adding your children to the family, losing a spouse, remarrying and acquiring property can all shift what you need to address in your estate plan.

Quite a few people experience these changes without revisiting their last will. They may then die with inaccurate or incomplete instructions regarding their last wishes. Can someone challenge an estate plan just because there are outdated terms included?

The courts may invalidate certain parts of a last will

When the last will or estate plan is obviously valid and reflects the wishes of the deceased, the chances are good that surviving family members and other beneficiaries won’t be able to challenge the plan in its entirety.

Those who want the court to throw out a last will will typically need to show that there are major issues, like fraud, lack of testamentary capacity, improperly executed documents or undue influence of an outside party.

In a situation where a last will became outdated because of family changes or when the property someone owned changed, the court may look specifically at terms that no longer reflect the family or the estate of the deceased individual.

They might toss out a single clause if it involves giving an inheritance to a deceased individual or reconsider the distribution of certain property if the testator allocated a specific asset that they no longer retained at their desk.

Updated terms can lead to conflict and unnecessary probate delays

While those who have plans for their legacy when they die can expect that the courts will uphold their wishes even if aspects of their plan are no longer valid, that doesn’t mean that you should ignore updated information in your last will.

Making prompt revisions and expansions to your estate plan when necessary will reduce the likelihood of challenges or complications due to differences in family relationships or in the property that you hold. Frequent reviews and updates will give you optimal control over your legacy and reduce the complications your loved ones face after you die.