Sometimes an estate plan no longer fits. Your life changes, sometimes without warning, and you have to act fast. When this happens, you need to know how to revoke your estate planning documents.
Basic Estate Planning
Three documents typically serve as foundation for an estate plan:
- Last Will and Testament (“Will”),
- Durable Power of Attorney, and
- Medical Power of Attorney.
These documents must comply with Alabama law in the way they are drafted and signed. But did you know there are laws about how to cancel them also?
Changing Your Mind and Your Documents
You may have several reasons for modifying your estate plans. For example, major life events trigger estate plan reviews and those reviews may lead to major changes:
- Change in financial status,
- Change in family relationships,
- Agents or personal representatives need to be changed,
- Moving to another state
So, if you experience a major life event – or just change your mind – how can you revoke estate planning documents you already have in place?
Last Will and Testament. It’s possible to make minor modifications to your Will by preparing and signing a Codicil. This becomes an addition to your Will. Generally, your previous Will is revoked by any new Will you sign. You can also revoke a Will by any of the following means: burning, tearing up, cancelling, obliterating, or destroying.
Someone other than the testator can destroy the Will. However, the testator must direct the destruction or consent to it willingly before two witnesses.
Durable Power of Attorney. Authority granted under a power of attorney terminates if the principal:
- Becomes incapacitated,
- Revokes the power of attorney,
- Provided a specific termination date in the power of attorney itself,
- Provided a specific purpose for the power of attorney that has been accomplished.
It will also terminate if the agent dies or becomes unwilling or unable to serve. In addition, a fiduciary or a court may terminate the power of attorney. And if the principal and agent were married, the authority is revoked if the marriage is dissolved or annulled.
Medical Power of Attorney. According to Alabama law, the principal can revoke a medical power of attorney in writing, signed and dated. The power of attorney can also be destroyed by the principal. There should be at least one witness age 19 or older and the principal should state his or her intention is to revoke their power of attorney.
Review Your Estate Plans Regularly.
The attorneys at Adams & Miller understand the estate planning needs of their clients. Contact Adams & Miller, P.C. at 256-251-2137 to schedule an appointment. Though our offices are in Anniston and Birmingham, we help clients in Talladega, Gadsden and surrounding communities.