Estate planning is very important and may be accomplished by the creation of a number of documents. These papers include a Last Will and Testament and a lifetime trust which may be revocable or irrevocable. Advance directives in the nature of a Living Will, Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy may also be considered as part of an overall plan. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog contains numerous posts dealing with planning an estate in New York.
Due to changing circumstances, a Will or a trust may need to be modified. Such circumstances may include the death or incapacity of either a beneficiary or a nominated fiduciary such as an Executor or Trustee. Additionally, a person’s intentions regarding beneficiaries may require a change in dispositions or a person’s assets may have declined, increased or changed requiring new Will or trust provisions.
In any event, when the time comes to revise a document, there are a few important points to consider. To begin with, a Will can be modified simply by preparing a new Will and having it executed and witnessed in accordance with the New York laws contained in Estates, Powers and Trusts Law Section 3-2.1 entitled “Execution and attestation of wills; formal requirements.” It is generally insufficient to just place corrections, markings or cross-outs on the original. The Courts most likely are going to ignore these attempted corrections on the face of a Will unless they happen to be done in accordance with the above statute; i.e., duly executed and witnessed. Therefore, it is best to have an experienced estate lawyer assist with any contemplated revisions.