You already have a will. But, now, where should you store it? Who should know it exists?
Here are a few tips:
Where should I store my will?
You should keep your will in a safe, but accessible place. I normally recommend that you keep it in a safety deposit box in your bank or in a safe place in your home. If your will leaves property in a way significantly different from the way it would pass if you die with no will, then a secure location is extremely important. If you name a bank as your executor, you could let the bank keep the original will in its will vault.
I also suggest that you keep a photocopy of your will at home for reference and annual review. It always makes sense to review your will and make changes as your life changes.
Who should get copies of my will?
It is not necessary for anyone other than you to have copies of your will. If you wish, most attorneys would be glad to make copies for anyone you desire; but remember, if you change your Will, the copies could be embarrassing to you.
What are some changes that could cause me to review my will?
You should review your will if there is a death of a beneficiary, marriage, divorce or remarriage, birth or adoption of a child, death or change of executor and death or change of children’s guardian.
It is also advisable to change your will when you change your mind about distribution, if there is a significant change in your assets, if you retire, if you inherit or receive assets as a gift, if someone goes into a nursing home for long-term care and finally, any time you feel uneasy about your will.
How do I change my will?
Do not write on your original will.
Changing your will is often done by a codicil. However, if you are changing beneficiaries or changing the amounts being given to beneficiaries, it is a better practice to redo the will.
The fee for redoing your will is usually the same as for adding a codicil. I recommend that you contact your attorney if you want to make any changes and to make certain that all changes are legally made.
How do I revoke my will?
The best way to revoke your will is to tear up the original. Normally, you should not revoke your will unless you are having a new one prepared. If you revoke your will and die without one, your property will be distributed according to state law and that may not be the way you want.
Should I tell my personal representative who my attorney is?
Yes. In case you die, your personal representative should know who your attorney is in case your personal representative has questions to direct to your attorney.
Will my Connecticut will be valid if I later move and become a resident of another state?
Most states have adopted a Uniform Wills Act. One of the provisions of this act is that if your will is valid in Connecticut, it is good in the state where you moved. However, it is always worth checking the legality of your will with an attorney in your new state.
Attorney Daniel O. Tully is a partner in the law firm of Kilbourne & Tully, P.C., members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Inc., with offices at 120 Laurel St., Bristol (860) 583-1341.