If you have created a will, courts will consider it valid as long as state requirements were met when creating it. For a will to be valid in Pennsylvania, the following generally must be true:
- Testator (creator of will) was at least 18 years old at the time of will creation.
- Testator was of sound mind and not under duress at the time of will creation.
- Testator declared will was theirs and signed it in front of two witnesses.
While a will does not expire, it will likely become outdated over time. That is why updating your will can be just as important as creating it in the first place. Failing to update your will on a regular basis, the information in the will may no longer be accurate when you pass away.
When should I update my will?
Experts suggest updating your will every three to five years or when a significant life event occurs. Some reasons to update your will may include the following:
- Birth of a child.
- Divorce (prior to filing is ideal, if possible).
- Your child gets married.
- Beneficiary develops substance abuse issues or debt problems.
- Death of a beneficiary.
- Death of an executor.
- New laws that may impact your estate plan.
- Purchasing a new home or other property.
- Major financial change (e.g., winning a million dollars).
- Change in relationship with beneficiary.
If you need to update your will, you or an estate planning attorney can draft a codicil, which you will have to sign in front of witnesses. If more major changes are needed, you can legally revoke your original will and replace it with a new one.
Many people make the mistake of creating a will and failing to update it regularly.