Make sure your parents' Wills are Up To Date: Part II
Your parents’ Wills contain details which are specific to the time they were signed. The Wills name an Executor and other fiduciaries, identify a spouse, children and other intended beneficiaries, and reflect the state of the law at the time of signing. The circumstances of the person named as an Executor or Trustee may have changed.
They may have passed away or suffered a serious turn in the condition of their health. If the Will is old enough, a named Guardian for minor children may no longer be needed. Children grow up, get married and have grandchildren. A named beneficiary may have died or the gift to him or her is not now appropriate. An intended beneficiary may now have special needs which are not properly addressed in the Will. The Estate Tax Laws have changed significantly in the past 20-years.
A trust which made perfect sense when the Will was drafted may now not be needed or have unintended consequences. A Will can only be changed if your parents have “testamentary capacity;” which, as the term suggests, means they are competent and are not suffering from dementia or some other debilitating ailment. It is considered best practices that a person review his or her Will every 5-years or when there is a significant change in family or financial circumstances. Even if it’s been more than 5-years, now is the time to discuss the Will with your parents and to deal with any needed changes.