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Navigating the Aftermath: Can a Will be Changed After Death?

In the complex and often emotionally charged arena of estate planning, one question frequently arises: “Can a will be changed after death?” The nature of this question can be pure legal curiosity, a concern for and desire to advocate for your family members during a complicated family moment, or a desire for a more equitable distribution of a deceased person’s assets.

The straightforward answer is no, a will cannot be changed after the testator has died. However, the reality surrounding this issue is nuanced, involving legal mechanisms that, under certain circumstances, can alter the effect of a will or its distributions without changing its actual terms.

Understanding the Finality of a Will

A will is a legal document that expresses the testator’s wishes regarding how their estate should be distributed upon their death. Once the testator passes away, the will becomes a fixed document; its terms are meant to be executed as written, reflecting the deceased’s final wishes. This principle underscores the importance of drafting a will carefully and updating it as circumstances change throughout one’s life.

However, the inquiry into “Can a will be changed after death?” opens the door to exploring mechanisms like probate challenges, the role of estate laws, and agreements among beneficiaries that can impact how, and to whom, assets are ultimately distributed.

Challenging a Will

One of the primary avenues through which the outcomes dictated by a will can be contested or modified involves legal challenges during the probate process. Probate is the legal procedure through which a will is validated by a court. During probate, interested parties can challenge the will’s validity on several grounds:

Undue Influence

Undue influence refers to a situation where one person manipulates or exerts excessive pressure on another individual, typically someone vulnerable or in a position of dependence, to gain control over their decision-making, especially regarding the drafting of a will or estate planning. This manipulation is aimed at benefiting the influencer at the expense of the true intentions of the person making the will (the testator) and often occurs in relationships where there is an inherent power imbalance, such as caregiver-patient, attorney-client, or between elderly individuals and their family members or friends. 

Legally, proving undue influence can invalidate a will or specific provisions within it, as it demonstrates that the document does not accurately reflect the testator’s free will and intentions. Courts scrutinize such claims closely, requiring substantial evidence to demonstrate that undue influence was indeed exerted, affecting the testator’s decisions regarding their estate. 

can a will be changed after death

Lack of Testamentary Capacity

Lack of testamentary capacity is relevant in the event that an testator does not possess the mental capacity to understand the nature and implications of the estate planning documents they are executing, specifically a will. This legal pillar protects testators from being exploited 

To challenge a will based on lack of testamentary capacity, evidence must be presented to show that at the time the will was made, the testator was unable to make decisions for themselves, regarding their estate. Courts consider such claims seriously, as they can lead to a will being declared invalid if testamentary capacity is indeed proven to be lacking.

Other Issues With Execution 

Several other issues with the way a will was executed can be cause for challenging a will. If a challenge is successful, the will might be declared invalid, and the estate would then be distributed according to the state’s intestacy laws, unless a prior valid will takes precedence.

Family Settlement Agreements

Another scenario where the question “Can a will be changed after death?” becomes relevant is through family settlement agreements. In some jurisdictions, if all beneficiaries agree, they can redistribute assets in a manner different from what is stipulated in the will. These agreements can be used to resolve disputes amicably without a lengthy court process. However, such arrangements must consider the rights of all beneficiaries and, sometimes, the intentions of the testator, as inferred from the will and other estate planning documents.

Deeds of Variation

In some countries like the United Kingdom, deeds of variation (also known as deeds of family arrangement) allow beneficiaries to redirect their inheritance to other individuals or entities. This mechanism can be used for various reasons, including tax planning, providing for someone who was omitted from the will, or rectifying what beneficiaries perceive as an unfair distribution. Although this process does not change the will itself, it alters the distribution of the estate in a way that can reflect posthumous wishes or agreements among beneficiaries.

The Importance of Estate Planning

The question “Can a will be changed after death?” underscores the critical importance of comprehensive estate planning. Regularly updating your will to reflect changes in relationships, financial situations, and personal wishes is crucial. Estate planning is not a one-time task but an ongoing process that should adapt to new life events, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of children, and significant financial changes.

Moreover, clear communication with potential beneficiaries about your wishes can prevent misunderstandings and disputes after your death. Estate planning tools like trusts can also offer more flexibility and control over asset distribution, potentially reducing the likelihood of challenges and disagreements among heirs.

So? Can a Will Be Changed After Death?

While the direct answer to “Can a will be changed after death?” is no, the nuances of estate law and the possibilities for beneficiaries to agree on different outcomes introduce shades of complexity to this question. The finality of a will is a principle that protects the testator’s wishes, but the legal frameworks in place recognize that circumstances and relationships continue to evolve even after a person’s death. 

Understanding these mechanisms should be plenty to convince you that engaging in thorough estate planning is an essential step to ensuring that your own wishes are honored in the future, and that your loved ones are provided for according to your intentions. This approach not only honors the spirit of the question but also the spirit of the law and the wishes of those who have passed on.

Lewman Law Can Help You

Ready to take the next step in securing your financial legacy? At Lewman Law, we specialize in crafting comprehensive estate plans tailored to your unique needs. Our team of experienced professionals is ready to guide you through the intricacies of marital trusts and estate planning. Contact us today for a personalized consultation and discover how Lewman Law can empower your financial future. Let’s build a legacy that stands the test of time – together.

Filed under Estate Planning, financial planning, Legal Services

Ask an Estate Planning Attorney: How To Talk To Your Aging Parents About Wills and Estate Planning

Planning for your estate is a crucial task, yet many of our aging parents find it emotionally challenging to start the process. Our mortality brings up a lot of complex emotions, and so it makes sense that the subject would be a difficult one to broach, especially with the people who raised you and took care of you for so long. Finding a compassionate estate planning attorney can be challenging, but with 30 years of experience, Lewman Law can help. 

Some older parents believe that they don’t need an estate plan because they’re not old enough or don’t have significant assets to worry about. However, estate planning isn’t just about distributing wealth; it is also the place to make important medical decisions that preserve autonomy and quality of life. Regardless of age, everyone should have an estate plan to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Be Gentle.

In particular though, it’s important that we know how to have compassionate conversations with our aging population, so that they feel supported and empowered to preserve their wealth and help their family’s future legacy, rather than overwhelmed by the morose affairs of death and money.

We put it bluntly because it’s that simple: Contemplating mortality can be uncomfortable, and as humans we like to avoid uncomfortable things whenever possible. Some folks go as far as to associate discussing death with hastening its arrival. However, the reality is that avoiding estate planning won’t prevent death, it only makes it more complicated. Estate planning involves legal documents, tax considerations, and family dynamics, so surely some people procrastinate because they perceive it as complex or overwhelming; but mostly it’s the whole avoiding-talking-about-death thing.

If you’re the loving child of an aging parent, here are some tips to help you ease into and navigate a conversation about speaking with an estate planning attorney that everyone will feel good about, when it’s over.

Initiate the Conversation Early

estate planning attorney

Start discussing estate planning with your parents sooner rather than later. While it might feel uncomfortable, it’s essential to communicate to them that you value their wishes and preferences, and want to honor those wishes after they are gone or are unable to advocate for themselves. Encourage open communication about their assets, healthcare preferences, and end-of-life decisions, and share your own with them too! This will go a long way towards opening the conversation, and removing any perceived power dynamics.

Remind Them Of Their Autonomy

Instead, remind them that they have the power to make choices about where their money goes when they are gone, and that you are glad to help them. Offer them privacy, too; tell them that you’re happy to help support making appointments and finding resources and that no one else but them and their estate planning attorney needs to know what is in their will. This may help to ease anxiety they may have about family conflicts. 

Team Up With Other Family Members

Sometimes there’s power in numbers – but choose wisely. Enlist the help of your other siblings, cousins, or anyone whom your parents trust. This is not the time to bring in anyone who has a complicated relationship; imagine that you’re building a team of support, not a conflict-style intervention. You probably know exactly who not to invite. If your parents value their privacy, this might not be a helpful move, so be thoughtful. 

As people age, they can experience a loss of independence and autonomy as their body and mind slow down. This can be pretty emotionally challenging, and so you’ll want to enter the conversation from a place of compassion and empowerment, and not control. For example, don’t say, “I need you to write a will, and then give it to me.” 

Bring in the Professionals

Estate planning involves legal complexities. Encourage your elders to consult with an estate planning attorney. A professional can help create essential documents like wills, trusts, and advance healthcare directives. They’ll ensure everything aligns with your parent’s desires and state laws. If you’re in the Alameda area, we’d be honored to help

Set Aside a Designated Time to Talk

It can be tempting to have these kinds of conversations during family get-togethers like holidays, since it’s so rare to be in the same place. Resist the urge; these kinds of conversations should have time set aside out of respect for the importance of the topics. 

How to Help Prepare to Meet With an Estate Planning Attorney

After you’ve successfully had the conversation, it’s time to get ready for your meeting with us, so that it can be as fruitful and affordable as possible. The more you prepare, the smoother and faster ($!) things will be. IIt can be overwhelming to know what you need. Here’s a few things to discuss beforehand:

Document All Assets

Help your parent compile a comprehensive list of their assets. Include bank accounts, investments, real estate, insurance policies, and personal belongings. Knowing what they own simplifies the planning process.

Discuss Healthcare Decisions

Discuss healthcare preferences with them. Encourage them to create a durable power of attorney for healthcare. This document designates someone (usually you or another trusted family member) to make medical decisions if they become incapacitated.

Financial Power of Attorney

Different than a medical directive, this allows someone to manage their financial affairs if your parents become unable to do so. It’s crucial for paying bills, managing investments, and handling day-to-day finances. 

Guardianship for Minor Children

In the rare case that your parent is the guardian of minor children (for example, raising your sibling’s child) discuss who would care for the child if something happened to your parent. Naming a guardian in their will ensures the children’s well-being. 

Review any current beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other assets. These designations override the will, so it’s important to keep them up to date. 

We’d Love To Help

We know just how difficult it can be to have these conversations, and we are here to help however we can. It’s our greatest aspiration that choosing us as your estate planning attorney provides a little peace of mind, knowing that your loved one’s affairs are in order.Remember, estate planning isn’t just about finances; it’s about ensuring your parent’s legacy and well-being. By actively participating in this process, you’re supporting them in a very meaningful way, and making your future life a little easier, so you can concentrate on family when it’s time for that. Click here to get in touch, and schedule your consultation.  

Filed under Estate Planning, financial planning, Legal Services

Drafting a Will: Protecting Your Legacy and Loved Ones

Drafting a will is an essential and often overlooked aspect of estate planning that can significantly impact your loved ones’ future. While thinking about end-of-life matters can be uncomfortable, creating a will is a responsible and compassionate way to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes. In this blog, we will delve into the critical aspects of drafting a will, highlighting the importance of this process. Lewman Law is here to guide you through this journey, ensuring your legacy is protected.

Drafting a Will: Understanding the Basics

Drafting a will may seem complex, but at its core, it is a legal document that outlines how your assets and properties will be distributed after your passing. This section covers the fundamental aspects of wills.

The Purpose of Drafting a Will

A will serves several crucial purposes. First, it specifies who will receive your assets, including real estate, personal belongings, investments, and savings. Additionally, it allows you to name a guardian for your minor children, ensuring their well-being in the event of your untimely passing.

Choosing an Executor

The executor is the person responsible for carrying out the instructions in your will. They will handle tasks such as distributing assets, paying off debts, and managing the probate process. Selecting a trustworthy and competent executor is vital to ensuring your wishes are fulfilled.

The Importance of a Well-Crafted Will

Drafting a will isn’t just about creating a document; it’s about providing peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones.

Asset Distribution

Without a will, your assets may be distributed according to state laws, often not in alignment with your wishes. Drafting a will allows you to specify who gets what, ensuring your assets are distributed as you see fit.

Protecting Your Loved Ones

For those with minor children, a will provides an opportunity to designate a guardian. This ensures that if something happens to you, your children are placed in the care of a person you trust.

Avoiding Family Disputes

A well-drafted will can prevent conflicts among family members by clearly stating your intentions. This can save your loved ones from the emotional turmoil and legal battles that can arise when there is no clear direction.

Minimizing Taxes and Probate Costs

Estate taxes and probate fees can be significant burdens on your estate. A properly drafted will can help reduce these expenses, leaving more for your beneficiaries.

The Will Drafting Process

Consulting with an Attorney

When it comes to drafting a will, consulting with an experienced attorney is invaluable. They will ensure that your will is legally sound and that it reflects your wishes accurately. At Lewman Law, our team of experts is dedicated to guiding you through this process.

Listing Your Assets

To draft a will, you will need to list all your assets, both large and small. This includes real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal belongings, and even sentimental items. Your attorney will help you compile a comprehensive list.

Designating Beneficiaries

Decide who you want to leave your assets to. It may be family members, friends, charities, or a combination of these. Be as specific as possible to avoid confusion and potential disputes.

Appointing an Executor

Select an executor who will ensure that your wishes are carried out as specified in your will. This individual should be someone you trust implicitly, as they will have significant responsibilities.

Review and Update Regularly

Life is dynamic, and your circumstances may change over time. It’s crucial to periodically review and update your will to reflect these changes, such as births, deaths, or changes in your financial situation.

Common Misconceptions About Wills

Only the Wealthy Need a Will

It’s a common misconception that wills are only for the wealthy. In reality, anyone with assets, no matter how modest, should have a will to ensure their wishes are honored and their loved ones are protected.

I’m Too Young for a Will

Tragedy can strike at any age. Having a will in place, regardless of your age, is a responsible way to plan for the unexpected and provide for your loved ones.

I Can Create a Will Myself

While there are DIY will kits available, they often lack the expertise of an attorney. A professional can guide you through the intricacies of estate planning and ensure your will is legally valid.

Wills Are Set in Stone

Wills can be updated to reflect changes in your life. It’s essential to review and modify your will as circumstances evolve.


Drafting a will is a proactive step towards safeguarding your assets, providing for your loved ones, and ensuring your legacy lives on as you intended. It’s not just a legal document; it’s a reflection of your care and concern for those you leave behind. Lewman Law is here to help you through this process, providing expert guidance and support.

Secure Your Legacy with Lewman Law

Don’t wait until it’s too late; take the responsible step of drafting your will today. Contact Lewman Law to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes, protecting your loved ones and minimizing the stress and complications that can arise without a well-crafted will. Let us be your trusted partner in securing your legacy.

Filed under Estate Planning

Crafting Your Legacy: The Importance of a Final Will and Testament

When it comes to planning for the future, there’s one document that often gets overlooked but holds tremendous significance – the Final Will and Testament. This legal document, commonly referred to as a will, serves as a vital tool for individuals to safeguard their assets, provide for their loved ones, and ensure their wishes are honored after they pass away. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the importance of a final will and testament, its components, and why you should consider creating one with the expertise of Lewman Law.

Understanding the Final Will and Testament

What Is a Final Will and Testament?

At its core, a final will and testament is a legally binding document that outlines your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets, property, and possessions after your passing. It also allows you to appoint an executor who will carry out these instructions and ensures your loved ones are provided for.

The Power of Choice

One of the most compelling aspects of a final will and testament is that it empowers you to make decisions about your legacy. Without a will, the state determines how your assets are distributed, which may not align with your wishes or your loved ones’ needs.

The Components of a Final Will and Testament

Executor Selection

Choosing the right executor is a critical decision. This individual will be responsible for managing your estate, settling debts, and distributing assets as per your wishes. It’s essential to select someone you trust implicitly and who understands your values and intentions.

Beneficiary Designations

In your will, you’ll specify who will inherit your assets, property, and possessions. This can include family members, friends, charities, or any other individuals or entities that matter to you.

Guardianship for Minor Children

If you have minor children, a will is where you can designate a legal guardian to care for them in the event of your passing. This decision ensures your children’s well-being and provides peace of mind.

Specific Bequests

You can make specific bequests in your will, such as leaving sentimental items or gifts to particular individuals. This allows you to distribute your personal effects according to your wishes, preserving your legacy.

The Importance of Legal Assistance

Avoiding Legal Pitfalls

Creating a will may seem straightforward, but without proper legal guidance, you risk making errors that could lead to disputes and complications. Lewman Law can provide expert assistance to ensure your will is legally sound.

Updating Your Will

Life is dynamic, and circumstances change. Your will should reflect these changes. Legal professionals can help you update your will to account for new assets, family members, or any other relevant modifications.

The Benefits of a Final Will and Testament

Ensuring Your Wishes Are Honored

A will serves as your voice when you’re no longer here. It ensures that your assets are distributed as you intended, sparing your loved ones the burden of guessing your wishes.

Minimizing Family Conflicts

Without a clear will, disputes among family members can arise, leading to emotional distress and legal battles. A well-drafted will can prevent these conflicts and maintain family harmony during a difficult time.

Protecting Your Children

If you have minor children, a will is essential for designating a guardian who will provide the care and support they need. This decision can prevent custody battles and ensure your children are in capable hands.

Preparing for the Unexpected

Estate Taxes

A well-structured will can also help mitigate estate taxes, ensuring that your assets go to your loved ones rather than to the government. Lewman Law can assist in implementing tax-saving strategies within your will.

Peace of Mind

Knowing that you have a comprehensive final will and testament in place provides peace of mind. It eliminates uncertainty and allows you to enjoy the present without worrying about the future.


In crafting your legacy, a final will and testament stands as a cornerstone of responsible planning. It grants you the power to decide how your assets are distributed, who cares for your loved ones, and ensures your wishes are honored. However, to reap these benefits, it’s crucial to seek professional guidance from experts like Lewman Law.

Don’t leave your legacy to chance; take control of your future today. By partnering with Lewman Law, you can create a final will and testament that truly reflects your wishes and safeguards the financial well-being of your loved ones.

Secure Your Legacy: Consult Lewman Law Today

Are you ready to take control of your future and protect your loved ones? Lewman Law is here to help you create a final will and testament that reflects your wishes and safeguards your legacy. Don’t leave these crucial decisions to chance; consult our experienced legal team today.

Contact us now for a personalized consultation and secure your legacy for generations to come. Your peace of mind and your loved ones’ financial security are just a phone call away.

Filed under Estate Planning