Adults should create estate plans as soon as possible, preferably as soon as they marry or have a first child. Having an estate plan in place is good in and of itself, but you want to make sure to update these documents frequently.
It is good to create a new will during any major life changes, such as the birth of a child or a divorce. However, it is also good to review estate plans once every few years regardless of your life situation just to see if there is anything out-of-date. When you do this, there is a specific way you need to go about negating the previous will, so there is no confusion in the event you pass away.
You can make an estate plan official by having it notarized and signed in the presence of two witnesses. During this time, you should take any previous wills you possess and officially negate them. Even if you only need to make a codicil to an existing will, it is good to create it officially rather than handwriting it within the existing document.
You should make multiple copies of your will. One copy should go to your lawyer for safekeeping, and it is also a good idea to keep one for your own records. You should keep your copy either at home in a safe that will protect the document in the event of a natural disaster, or keep a copy of the document in a safety deposit box at the bank. When you make a new will, shred all copies of the old one.
Having two wills can create a lot of anxiety and frustration because family members do not know which one you want followed. Do not assume the court will simply go with whichever one you created most recently. Keeping only the current copy of the will helps your family avoid any confusion when the time comes for the will to be read.
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