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How long is my will good for?

In many cases, a will you drew up 20 years ago can still be valid and express your wishes perfectly. However, it is a good idea to revisit older wills as your life situation changes to see if they need updating. There is also the fact that if you had witnesses sign your will and at least one has died, it could potentially cause problems in probate. Interestingly, though, if you handwrote your will, you do not need witnesses.

Of course, just because you know your will is valid does not mean other people share your belief, and that might spell trouble later.

Many life changes

Say that you made your will 20 years ago. Since then, your spouse died, you remarried, one child divorced and several grandchildren were born. Despite these changes, you are fine with your will exactly the way it is. However, if you were to die tomorrow, your second spouse might not be okay with the provisions of the will and could theoretically mount a serious challenge in court.

It is good practice to update your will with a marriage or divorce and other life changes you deem significant. Even if you do not want to change anything, your lawyer can note and date that desire.

Where the will is

Older wills have the propensity to become decayed or to get lost. For instance, suppose you put your will in the bottom of your office desk drawer 20 years ago. Since then, you have added a lot more papers, taken a lot out and gone through several reorganizations. Is your will where you left it? Maybe not, and your heirs need to be able to find it easily for processes to go smoothly after your death. Similarly, your will could have become torn or stained over the years, rendering some sections hard or impossible to read.

Of course, there are plenty of people whose lives stay more or less the same over two decades or longer. If this sounds like you, then your will may be just fine in expressing your wishes and in holding up to any court scrutiny.

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