Wills do not expire, but certain changes can render them useless. It is important to review your will periodically to ensure it still does what you want. The following are five ways your will can become out of date.
1. Your beneficiaries have died. For example, if your will leaves your estate to your two siblings and both die before you, your will is still valid, but it will have no effect on who will inherit from your estate. Instead, your estate will be distributed according to the law in your state, just as if you had died without a will.
2. You have potential new beneficiaries. A will that was written before you got married will be of little assistance in distributing your estate. Illinois law includes provisions that provide for a spousal share. In this case, Illinois law is dictating where your estate is going, not you.
3. Your executor is dead or unable to serve. The executor is the person named in your will who oversees the distribution of your property. If the person you named as executor is unable to serve, the court will have to appoint someone else. Beneficiaries may have a say in who is chosen, but it may not be someone you would have wanted in the position.
4. You no longer own property named in the will. If your will attempts to divide your estate equally by giving cash to your daughter and property of equal value to your son and the property is sold before you die, your son will receive nothing. In this case, your will is no longer ensuring your estate is divided equally.
5. The law changes. If your estate plan was designed specifically to avoid estate taxes and the estate tax law changes, your will may no longer serve its purpose.
Consult your estate planning attorney for further information.