Can someone change a will after the creator’s death?

beneficiaries agreeing to change a will

When you create a will, you may be under the assumption that what’s written in your estate plan is set in stone. However, this is not always the case. You may be surprised to discover that it is possible to change a will after the creator has passed away, but this process can be challenging to navigate. Keep reading to learn why someone may want to change a will and discover how PA wills, trusts & estates attorneys can help you draft your estate planning documents.

Why would someone want to change a will?

There are several reasons one may want to modify a will after the creator’s death. One of the most common is that a beneficiary may not want to accept an inheritance left to them and does not care who it goes to instead of them. It is not mandated that a named beneficiary must accept the inheritance. In order to go through this process, the inheritor would need to fill out a deed of disclaimer, which allows their portion of the estate to be added to the creator’s residuary estate. Generally, someone refusing an inheritance does not need the permission of the other named beneficiaries, unless it directly impacts their portion of the estate.

Another reason a beneficiary may want to alter a will is because they feel someone has been left out or want to share things more evenly. For example, if three siblings feel the fourth did not get a fair amount of assets from a parent’s will, they may all agree to split the assets evenly. Another instance is if a grandchild is not included in a will, but the creator frequently talked about making an adjustment to ensure the baby can receive a portion of the estate. If this is the case, all beneficiaries impacted must agree and sign a deed of variation.

What cannot be changed?

While it seems simple enough to change a will through a deed of disclaimer or variation, this is not always the case. There are a number of stipulations by which a will cannot be altered, including the following:

  • All beneficiaries must be in agreement; if one beneficiary does not agree, the will cannot be altered
  • Beneficiaries under 18 may not have their shares removed or changed
  • Those who are not mentioned in the estate plan cannot make changes
  • A named guardian or beneficiary may not be altered or removed

If none of these stipulations apply to your circumstances and the other beneficiaries impacted by the change agree to sign a deed of variation, you must have at least two witnesses present when the document is signed.

When you have questions about your estate plan, Friedman Schuman is ready to help. Our dedicated legal team can help make this complicated process more manageable. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.

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