Replacing Old Estate Planning Documents

Many people assume planning an estate is a one-time task. However, the reality is estate planning requires a long-term approach. A plan created for someone in his/her twenties will rarely reflect that person’s situation 10 years later. In fact, most people are encouraged to revise their estate plans regularly, especially after major life changes like remarriage or the birth of a child, at which time they may also need to replace prior estate planning documents.

Testators who fail to take this step could end up leaving their loved ones with questions about some of their bequests, which can in turn, result in a will contest. For help ensuring your own estate plan is clear-cut, please reach out to attorney Alan G. Orlowsky today.

Estate Planning Documents

There are a wide range of documents, which are required in the estate planning process, including:

● Wills;
● Trust agreements;
● Beneficiary designations for retirement and insurance accounts;
● Powers of attorney for healthcare and property;
● Buy-sell agreements; and
● Living wills.

These documents are usually intended to be permanent. However, this does not mean they cannot be changed later. In fact, it is relatively common to completely replace a will or significantly change a beneficiary or power of attorney designation. In these cases, certain steps must be taken to ensure the prior paperwork is accounted for and destroyed or voided.

For instance, Illinois law requires the filing of a decedent’s original will before an estate can begin working through the probate process. However, filing can become much more complicated when two versions of the document exist, making it especially important for testators to replace or destroy the original document or risk litigation over which person’s wills is valid and enforceable.

How to Revoke Estate Planning Documents

The exact process for replacing estate planning documents will depend on the type of document in question. For example, wills can only be revoked in a few different ways, all of which must be undertaken by the testator or at his/her direction and include:

● Burning, canceling, tearing, or obliterating the will;
● Executing a new will, which includes a provision explaining the previous will is revoked
● Executing a later will, which is inconsistent with the prior document; or
● Executing another instrument, which specifically revokes a prior will.

While some of these options require the actual replacement of old estate planning documents, this is not necessarily true for all estate-related records. If you want to update your will or estate and have questions about what to do with your old documentation, please reach out to our office today for help.

Call Today for an Initial Case Review

Please contact the experienced Northbrook, IL contested estate planning lawyers at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law to learn more about replacing your old estate planning documents, or about how to prevent your own estate from being contested. We can be reached at our office at 847-325-5559 or via online message.

Updated as of July 2019
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