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Legal Notes

Is your Will relevant?

Pam OddyAttorney Pamela Oddy, Athol, Mass., 978-249-7511When I give speeches to local senior groups, I always ask the question: “Does everyone in this room have a Will?” My next question is usually: “When was the last time you read your Will?” On the surface, these questions seem simple enough and I am finding that, today, more and more people have Wills. However, I am also discovering that people are not reviewing their Wills with any frequency. Perhaps we think that if we have a Will then we are all set. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is not enough to have a Will, though it is hugely important; you should read your Will every three to five years to be sure it is exactly the way you want it to be. Often, life has a habit of changing us and the paths we are taking, and we need to be sure that our Wills accurately reflect what our last wishes are. In other words, we need to be certain that our Wills are relevant.

Below is a list of sample reasons to re-examine and potentially re-draft your Will:

  1. Has anyone died that you have mentioned in your Will?
  2. Do you have a specific item, such as your house or a camp, that you want a specific person to have?
  3. Do you have a child that you may want to remove from your Will? Or do you have a child that you had eliminated from your Will that you now want brought back in?
  4. Do you now have grandchildren that you would like to leave something to?
  5. Are you now raising your grandchildren so that you need to offer them some degree of economic protection in the event of your death?
  6. Do you want someone else to be your Personal Representative (formerly known as Executor)?

Although the above questions are merely sample reasons to re-examine your Will, the point holds true: you should read your Will every three to five years to be sure it is exactly the way you want it to be. In other words, make sure your Will is relevant.

The views expressed in this column represent general information. To address your particular and specific needs consult your own attorney. If you need help with referral to an attorney, contact the Franklin County Bar Association at (413) 773-9839 or the Worcester County Bar Association at (978) 752-1311. Elder law resources may be found through the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Massachusetts Chapter, at massnaela.com or 617-566-5640.

Community Legal Aid (CLA) provides legal services free to people age 60 and older for civil legal matters with an emphasis on access to health care coverage (MassHealth and Medicare) and public benefits as well as tenants’ rights. A request for legal assistance can be made by phone at 413-774-3747 or toll-free 1-855-252-5342 during their intake hours (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and Wednesday from 1:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.) or any time online by visiting www.communitylegal.org.