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When Is It Too Late to Write or Revise a Will?

Last will and testament: writing your will
By Christopher Coble, Esq. on July 18, 2018 3:57 PM

As we have said many times before, it's never too early to write a will. While it may strike you as morbid or impractical, the sooner you can have an estate plan in place, the better. Writing a will while you're young can give you a handle on your assets, provide a framework that you can refine and revise as the years go by, and removes any worries that you weren't in your right mind when you bequeathed your entire fortune to your dog.

While there may be no time too early to write a will, there is certainly a time when it's too late. Can you guess when?

Written Wills and Probate Problems

Yep, if your will isn't written before you die, your estate will go into probate -- the legal process for transferred a person's property after their death and sorting out the legal issues related to the collection, management, and distribution of an estate. And going into probate without a will (or intestate) means that you're leaving the distribution of your estate up to your state's laws on intestate succession.

Intestate succession can be more expensive and take longer, and there is no guarantee that the people you want to inherit your estate will. While an administrator will make efforts to track down heirs and close relatives for distribution, more distant relatives, friends, and charities are likely to lose out. And how your estate is distributed will be up to the courts, rather than up to you. Finally, if no surviving family members are, most states take the entire estate.

Revision Reminders

If you already have a will or estate plan in place, your death is also your deadline for revisions or changes. So it's best to continually update your will based on life changes like marriage, children, or divorce, and financial changes like buying land or a house and acquiring assets like investment or retirement portfolios.

So consult an experienced estate planning attorney today; before it's too late.

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