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When is a will considered outdated?

My parents made a will when I was a child, I just found out that they have never updated it. They are in their 80's now - is this 50 year old will still valid? I'm trying to talk them into updating it but they keep procrastinating. My sister and I are highly unlikely to dispute anything but I've heard nightmare stories about probate courts and how long and drawn out the process can be.
Status: Open    Jan 06, 2016 - 02:03 AM

Elder Law > Estate Planning

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4 answers

Expert Answers

Jan 12, 2016 - 08:44 AM

A will does not become invalid just because it is old. However, if the testator marries, divorces or has more children after making the will, without specifically mentioning that possibility, the will is usually revoked by operation of law.

Jan 12, 2016 - 01:08 PM

The will is still valid, although they want to handle things and how assets are distributed may certainly have changed.

Jan 13, 2016 - 02:18 PM

It is still legally valid so long as it was executed pursuant to the laws at the time. However, as a practical purpose an update is a good idea. The administration can be very much delayed by an old will. For example, most Wills excited before the 1980s are not going to be self-proving. A self-proving Will can be admitted to probate without witness testimony. You can usually tell a will as self-proving because it will have a notarized affidavit attached. If it is not self-proving, you will need to locate those old witnesses. If they are deceased, you would need to find someone who could recognize their signatures and so on. My own grandmothers will was 30 years old and was perfectly valid, but I updated it for her just to get the self-proving affidavit in place.

Jan 20, 2016 - 08:06 AM

I agree with Jack Carney. That is a very good answer. I would add that if you are confident you and your sister can agree on things you should mention to your parents that a trust can avoid probate entirely. It would be quicker, cheaper and easier when they are gone for you and your sister to administer their assets with a trust. A new document can also provide protection in case you or your sister die before your parents, if either of you become disabled or incompetent and other problems that can arise.

If the Will is 50 years old, it is likely very short and does not cover many of the what-it-this-happens situations. Wills that I draft, probably Jack also, are 20-30 pages. An attorney prepares you for the worst and hopes for the best.

Best wishes on getting some action from them. Try the trust idea if the updating the will fails.

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