One of the biggest barriers that people seem to run into when it's time to review their will is, is it an easy process? Or is this going to take a lot of time?

I deal with this every day, so I know how easy it is to update the documents, go through the process and get it ready and get it signed. But a lot of times you've never done this before. Or if you did it, you did it once years ago. And maybe you didn't have a good experience with the attorney you worked with. You didn't necessarily understand what you were signing. And you're a little concerned that you don't want to go back and change around the documents.

  • Will it make something invalid?
  • Will it disinherit somebody?

But the most common one is,

  • It's too hard.

I'm here to tell you it's not too hard. It's actually easy to update your will.

There are two ways to do it and what you have to determine is which way you want to move forward. And the way you decide what you need to update is how deep into the will you have to make changes.


If it's as simple as adding a new personal representative, where maybe it's you had a child and you need to add them to the well. We can use what's called a codicil, which is a simple amendment, usually one to two pages long, that is signed just like your will with two witnesses and notarized. You are only doing an amendment to the Will you don't have to redo the entire will. You don't have to go page by page and go through everything. If it's a simple change. You can just do a codicil.

Update The Entire Will

However, if it's been many years since you drafted it, well, let's say your kids were small, and now they're off and they have their own kids and you've got grandkids, it might be time to update that will. And one of those misconceptions I often get from people is

"Oh, it's so long ago. It's probably not even valid anymore, right?"

Actually, that will is probably still valid. If you haven't revoked it, or you haven't done a new will, then that will from 20 years ago, would still be the will that would control. And you don't need to be intimidated. If you need to review your will with an attorney, you'll actually find that it's a very easy process. We can sit down look through the important parts of the will and determine whether you need a full new estate plan or whether you just need a codicil.

Healthcare Documents

While you're doing your updated will or maybe updating a trust, it's also a good time to look at your healthcare documents. You may have also signed these years ago, maybe it's been five or six years. And now your kids are adults. And while you used to have your brother, used to have a cousin, be the person making healthcare decisions, it would make a lot more sense to have one of your adult children be making those healthier decisions. So as part of your will revisions, you can also make sure your healthcare documents are up to date, and the powers of attorney you have are up to date.

Personal Property Memorandum

If you have a personal property memorandum, it's also a good time to check it out. And make sure you have the right people in the right places receiving the right property.

What's Next?

There's a few ways you can approach this:

  • You can stick your head in the sand, say "I'm never going to worry about it."
  • You could try to do it yourself and go to a website. Hope that you've executed everything correctly, or
  • Work with a professional ~ Talk to your financial advisor, your accountant. Go see your attorney, bring them the Will (It doesn't have to be the same attorney you worked with back in the day, you can go to a whole new attorney who can review them fresh for you)

Working with a professional, you may find that your will was good for you 20 years ago, but today you could do a few different things.

So in the end, it is easy to update your will. It just takes a few steps. It takes a little time with a professional attorney going through everything in the process. There's no reason not to update your will. If it's more than three years old, set up a time to speak to an attorney.

If you need to review your will, let's set up a complimentary Legal Strategy Session to review the best options to protect your legacy.

Andrew Ayers
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I work with business and estate planning clients to craft legal solutions to protect their legacies.