Life rarely goes the way we think it will. Sometimes, when we are planning our estate, we are forced to reconsider the legacy we wish to leave. We may wish to give more money to charity, provide for a stepchild, or disinherit an estranged family member. One way or another, you will have to alter your existing estate plan to account for unexpected changes.
Here’s what to know about updating an Arkansas will.
Why You Might Need to Update Your Arkansas Will
No matter your age or life circumstances, you should periodically review your will and other estate planning documents. However, there are several events that should trigger an immediate review of a will. They include:
- Marriage or divorce. Marriage and divorce are always reasons to revise your will, as you will want to include your new spouse as a beneficiary or strike out a former partner.
- Birth or adoption. You should always update your will after having or adopting a child. You can use your will to not only establish an inter-generational legacy but to also appoint a guardian in case anything ever happens to you.
- Change in personal circumstances. Just as we have children and get married and divorced, we have new people come into our lives and leave them, too. You may wish to give more money to charity in your will or to disinherit an irresponsible child.
- Change in financial circumstances. If you’ve recently started investing in stocks, bought a new home, or finished paying off a car, you’re going to want to account for these changes in your will. After all, if your most prized possessions aren’t covered by a will or trust, their disbursement will be in the court’s hands, not yours.
How to Update Your Will
If you need to change your will, you have two options for doing so:
- Affixing a codicil, a document that amends an existing will. A codicil lets you make minor changes to an existing will, such as adding new family members, revoking inheritances, and adding or removing specific bequests. Your codicil may need to be signed by witnesses. It will have to be affixed to your original will to be valid.
- Making a new will. While writing a new will may sound like a lot of work, it is the best way to delineate your wishes and reduce the potential for any confusion in probate.
No matter which route you take, you will have to ensure that your codicil or will is compliant with Arkansas state law. If your will and/or codicil is not signed or witnessed or is not sufficiently clear, the court may refuse to validate it, which puts the entirety of your estate into intestacy limbo.
Since even minor estate planning decisions can herald huge consequences, you should always contact an experienced estate planning attorney before making adjustments.
Contact Us Today
If you need to change an existing Arkansas estate plan, Quraishi Law can help. Contact us to schedule your initial consultation today.