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My 20 Year Old Will Is… Fine?

will still valid

How Old Is Too Old

If your will document is 20 years old, is it fine?  A man named John came up to me and was asking what I did for a living. I said that I’m a state planning attorney I do wills and trusts for folks. He said, “Oh, we’ve had a will for about 20 years. It makes us feel good that we have it.”

I never want to push too hard with folks. I don’t want to cause panic, and I don’t like people feeling fear. But, but that was this concerning to me. And the reason is a will as a court document. You don’t want to submit a 20-year-old court document for anything.


Think of all the things that changed in the past 20 years. Think about the things in your life, your relationships, the ages of your kids, or your other family members. Do the people who manage your estate change over 20 years? Probably, but let’s just assume that it did not for a second. The best practices in the court system have changed, and the order in which we file things electronically. Wills control probate; it’s a court document. We used to send everything by mail with stamps. All these things have changed. People have email addresses now and passwords. There’s all this other stuff.

What To Do Now

We do not want to submit a 20-year-old court document, and that’s what a will is, so my advice to you. Go back to the attorney who drafted your will or if you have another attorney you trust and would like with whom you’d like to work. Get it redone about every ten years. That’s really a good rule of thumb. They’re just stale; they’re old, do your family a favor and rewrite the will every ten years or so. Here’s one thing you might want to consider this other tool called a revocable trust or a living trust.

Living Trust

I’ve talked about this in other videos. This is the family thing that we create, where if we get your stuff into this thing, we can control it with a private family agreement called a trust agreement; private agreements don’t need a judge’s help. So we can just administer these administer the estate court free. And because of this thing, by default, it doesn’t really go to court unless something goes really wrong. Generally speaking, they don’t need a judge; they don’t need the court system; they don’t need probate. We can let these go a little bit longer. I usually tell folks to rewrite your revocable trust plan about every 20 years or so. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check in on it. You know your life changes and your people change, and your priorities change, and your values change. So you got to keep up on that but by virtue of it just getting stale. It’s a good 20-year plan.

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