Five reasons you should have an updated will — and estate plan

Rick Ropelewski |

Your life changes, so should your estate plan

A last will and testament is one of the building blocks of a sound estate plan. However, a will that is not reviewed and updated to keep pace with changes in the law and the testator’s goals and circumstances could be worse than useless; it could, in fact, result in an inheritance and/or tax result that is opposed to what the testator intended. (A “testator” is one who makes a will.)

Here are some important reasons to update your will and overall estate plan.


1. The will needs an update if individuals named in it have died since it was signed. This issue was highlighted in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s recent ruling in Ciani v. MacGrath, where a decedent married a second time after his first wife had died, but his will — which only provided for his first wife and his children (by his first wife) — was never updated. Not surprisingly, this situation resulted in litigation. The second wife filed a claim for her statutory elective share, the implementation of which became hotly contested. Surely, the decedent would have not only wanted to avoid that litigation for his family but also to create a plan for his second wife on terms that he designed, not the default under state law. An update to the will would have made all the difference.


The opinions voiced in this article are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor.