How to Keep Your Estate Plan Current While Avoiding Potential Disputes

Tue Apr 30, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Whether it is signing a will or creating a trust, estate planning is not the kind of thing that you do once and forget about it. Instead, you should periodically review your estate plan to ensure that it reflects your most recent life changes and the corresponding changes in your estate planning goals. If you fail to update your estate plan, you risk having an estate plan that doesn’t serve your wishes and doesn’t meet the needs of the people you care about. It can also lead to conflict and disputes. Keeping your estate plan up to date is the answer, but you must do it the right way or it will almost certainly lead to litigation. An experienced estate litigation attorney can help you keep your estate plan up to date and help you avoid litigation. 

When You Should Consider Updating Your Estate Plan

You Got Married, Divorced, or Remarried

It is never too early to begin estate planning, but you definitely want to update your estate planning documents if they were drafted when you were single and you are now married. This is even more important if you are now divorced, as it is likely that you need to make significant changes. Getting remarried can make this situation even more complicated, especially when children are involved. Updating your estate plan allows you to make sure your children, your spouse, and maybe even your prior spouse are provided for in the future. An experienced estate litigation attorney can explain your options and update your will to make sure your estate planning goals reflect your current family structure. 

Children and Grandchildren

One of the primary purposes of estate planning is to take care of your children in the event of an accident. If your estate plan was drafted when your children were young, they may now be grown and have families of their own. Your children may no longer be dependent on you and have sufficient resources to take care of themselves. In that case, you may want to consider creating an inheritance for your grandchildren. You need to be careful, however, as giving grandchildren preference over children can lead to conflict. An estate litigation attorney can help you take care of the people with the greatest need while minimizing the risk of conflict. 


It is wise to update your estate plan if you have recently moved to Florida as your primary residence. You may not be able to take full advantage of the many protections that Florida law offers to its residents if your estate plan was drafted in another state. Furthermore, you may want to consider updating your will if you still own property in another state after purchasing a home in Florida.

Changes in the Law

The laws surrounding inheritances are constantly changing in ways that can also affect your estate plan. For example, changes in the tax laws could cause unanticipated unanticipated tax consequences upon your death. An estate litigation attorney can review your estate plan and determine whether it should be updated to reflect the current state of the law. 

Why It Is Important to Update Your Estate Plan Correctly

Creating changes to your estate planning documents will have a profound impact on your beneficiaries. If you update your estate plan incorrectly, you could create internal contradictions and inconsistencies in the documents that give rise to ambiguities. Even worse, you could wind up with competing versions of the same document. Either way, these issues can quickly lead to conflicts that cannot be resolved short of litigation, as some parties cannot agree on which version or interpretation will control. In addition, it’s very likely that a court may discard any changes you made if they do not comply with the law. As a result, you may wind up frustrating your own intentions. The best thing to do is work with an estate litigation attorney who can help you update your estate planning documents.  

Updating Your Trust

If you created a trust, the process is relatively straightforward. You must make any updates as required by your trust’s declaration. If your trust documents do not lay out how to make changes, then Florida law requires that you create and sign a document that clearly states your intentions.

Updating Your Will

Updating your will is more complicated. You cannot simply draft an amendment or make changes to the will itself. 

One option is to create a codicil, which must comply with all of the same requirements that wills must meet. In particular, you need to make sure that it is properly executed  – it must be signed by you in the presence of two witnesses who must also sign the will in each other’s presence. 

The other option is to revoke your prior will and draft a new one. Revocation of your prior will is critical – if you fail to do that, you will then have two different wills which will almost certainly result in litigation. Florida law provides two ways to revoke your will: 

  • Revocation by writing, which involves the creation of a document that expressly or implicitly revokes your will; or 
  • Revocation by act, which involves physically destroying your prior will in some way. 

Any updates to your will should be done only after careful consideration and with an understanding of both the obvious ramifications as well as any unintended consequences. If you are considering updating your will, we strongly urge you to work with an estate litigation attorney who can help. 

Contact Ellis Law Group if You Need to Update Your Estate Plan

Updating your estate plan is important, but it’s even more important to do it correctly. At Ellis Law Group, we provide comprehensive estate planning and litigation representation, giving us a unique insight into how to avoid the issues that lead to costly litigation. If you have not updated your estate plan in a while, call us today at 561-910-7500 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.