A will (which should be accompanied by other important documents such as healthcare and financial powers of attorney, as well as an advance healthcare directive) is a foundational estate planning document. However, according to Gallup, only 46 percent of US adults have a will. This number has remained consistent in Gallup polls dating back to 1990. If you are among the minority of Americans with this crucial estate planning document, then you probably recognize the risks of not having a will.
But simply creating a will does not mean that your estate plan is complete or final: your will may need to be updated from time to time. It may even need to be revoked and redrafted entirely.
Usually, revoking a will is a purposeful act on the part of the will maker. But many states have laws that automatically revoke a will, or portions of it, in specific situations. Certain actions by a beneficiary can also revoke that person’s interest in the will.
What Is in a Will?
A will—more formally known as a last will and testament—provides instructions about who should receive a person’s money and property after the person’s death and who they would like to care for their dependents. A basic will should specify the following:
- who receives personal assets (e.g. property, bank account balances, investments, business interests, and personal possessions) and in what amount
- an executor or person responsible for making sure that instructions in the will are carried out
- guardian arrangements for minor children
When a person passes away, their will goes through a legal process called probate, usually in a probate court located in the county where […]