What to Do When Someone Dies Without a WillWhat to Do When Someone Dies Without a Will

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What to Do When Someone Dies Without a Will

Hello, my name is Kerry. Last year my mother died suddenly. When we went through her papers, we discovered she didn't have a will. My mother had been married to another man before she met my father and I had a couple of step brothers. Unfortunately, they turned up on our doorstep and started to demand that we hand over my mother's life savings to them and their family. I contacted a lawyer who specialises in probate law. She talked me through my case and explained how we would defend it in court. Thankfully, the matter was resolved to my satisfaction and I could start to grieve for my mother. I decided to start this blog to help others who have a contested will on their hands.

Reasons To Revise Your Will

Wills are essential in dictating the distribution of people's estates. A will also cover various issues such as guardianship, end-of-life instructions, and management of digital assets. Still, your will requires constant revision to ensure its details are valid, updated and applicable. This piece discusses instances when you should revise your will. 

Change in marital status

Your will is no longer valid if you wrote it when you did not have a spouse. The division of your property follows intestacy laws instead of the will. These laws supersede the stipulations of wills since the will does not reflect your current marital details. Hence, ensure your will is up to date after your engagement or marriage. 

Similarly, wills require changes after a divorce or when you end an engagement. You may write an addendum to show your desired changes in the will. Alternatively, you can have your attorney create a new will. Your ex-spouse cannot benefit from the will unless you express such a desire. Hence, the separation period should include alterations that affect your probate matters.

Changes in your estate

Over the years, your estate can grow significantly. You may change the proportions assigned to your beneficiaries by amending the will. Your heirs may also receive items of your acquired possessions, such as collectibles, watches and family jewellery. Hence, your will should reflect such changes whenever you acquire new items. 

Similarly, you may change the will when you lose different items in the will. For example, you may sell various collectibles. You may also find new methods of storing value, such as purchasing real estate using money accumulated in your bank account. Such changes are essential in preserving the value of your estate. Hence, always ensure the will reflects such changes.  

Birth and adoption

New children are an important reason to change wills. If you get a child, you will want their name on the list of beneficiaries on your will. You may also consider guardianship and other matters that affect the child's well-being in your absence. The will must also dictate the age your child can receive the estate. Finally, review details regarding the child's trust and administrators. 

Most laws treat your adopted children in the same manner as your biological ones. If the adopted child is your first one, you must change the will to include the fact that you are an adoptive parent. You may also have details regarding the proportion of your estate assigned to each child. The executor follows such details when dividing property among the beneficiaries, adopted or biological. 

Always revise your will after changing your marital status, estate, birth and adoption. For more information on wills, contact a lawyer near you.