Keeping Wills Valid

Tip – Don’t “write in” changes on your original Will.

Your Will is an expression of your desires concerning who you want appointed to handle your estate after you pass away and to whom you want your property and other assets in your estate to go. Your Will is probated, which means that you file an application and your Will with the court, the court appoints your Personal Representative and issues Letters Testamentary, and your Personal Representative then inventories your property, pays your creditors, and distributes your estate to
the person or organizations you have named. Your original Will is filed with the court, so it is important that you take good care of it, and that those who will manage your affairs knows where it is at. Here are some of the problems that come up occasionally with a Will:

  1. People decide they want to make a change in their Will. Rather than write a new Will, they cross out and write in new information in their Will. This can invalidate the Will.
  2. When one spouse passes away the surviving spouse throws away the deceased spouse’s Will, thinking everything automatically goes to them, not realizing that some of the property in the estate may need to be probated now or when the second spouse dies. Without both of the
    original valid Wills, you must then go through a more complicated, formal process to probate the Will, which takes more time and money.
  3. Occasionally, even though a person has a valid Will, it cannot be located. You can request that a copy of the Will be probated, but you have to use a formal probate process which requires extra time and money and leaves the Will open to challenge.

In conclusion, put your Will in a safe place and let your Personal Representative know where it is at. Don’t throw away your spouse’s Will when they pass away—it will need to be probated at a future date. If you need to make changes or update your Will, have your attorney make the changes and then sign the new Will.

View our “Senior’s Guide to a Well-Planned Future” on our website! Packer Elder Care Law – with you for life!

Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.

April 2023