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Is it ever too late to change your will in Pennsylvania?

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2024 | Estate Planning |

People make wills for reasons such as asset distribution and guardianship for minor children. In Pennsylvania, the question of whether it is ever too late to change a will depends on various factors.

They primarily revolve around the mental capacity of the individual and the circumstances surrounding the modification.

Capacity to make changes

In Pennsylvania, individuals must possess the mental capacity to make changes to their will. They must be of sound mind. They must be able to understand the nature and consequences of their decisions regarding their estate. If someone lacks this capacity due to dementia, mental illness or other impairments, any alterations may be invalid.

Consideration of timing

There is no specific age limit or deadline for changing a will in Pennsylvania. However, timing can play a major role. Ideally, individuals would review and update their wills periodically, especially after significant life events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of children or grandchildren, or the acquisition of substantial assets.

Waiting until one’s health deteriorates significantly or until close to the end of life may raise questions about the individual’s capacity and the validity of any changes. In Pennsylvania, the life expectancy is about 76.8 years.

Challenges to changes

Changes made late in life could face challenges from disgruntled family members or other beneficiaries. These challenges might argue that the changes occurred under duress, coercion or undue influence from others. People should make changes to their wills in a clear and deliberate way, with documentation that shows their intentions.

Probate process

After a person passes away, their will typically goes through the probate process. Any modifications made close to the end of life may raise suspicions and lead to contested probate proceedings. Documentation proving intent can be very helpful.

A few steps can help prevent disputes and uphold the integrity of one’s final wishes.