Is a Will Invalid if There Is a Name Change in New York?

last will and testament

Creating a will is something that many put off as it can be unpleasant to think about. However, if you’ve created your will already, you may panic when someone named in the document changes their will. After all, the word of your estate plan is final – right? Not exactly. Keep reading to learn more about how a name change could impact your estate plan. When you want to ensure your will is free of errors, contacting a Putnam County wills attorney is essential to ensuring your wishes are met.

How Will a Name Change Impact an Inheritance?

One of the most important things to note about your will is that your intention is the most essential aspect. This means, in most instances, that a name change will not impact the outcome of your will.

For example, let’s say you have a daughter, Jane Smith, who gets married and changes her name to Jane Brown. If in your will you leave your estate to “my daughter, Jane Smith,” Jane Brown will receive the inheritance, as she is the intended recipient. In rare cases, she may need to show proof of the name change, such as a birth certificate or marriage license.

When Could It Be an Issue?

While this will rarely cause issues, there are instances where a name change can cause problems for the beneficiaries of a will. If you leave your estate to “Jane Smith” without specifying your relationship, there could be another Jane Smith in your life, like a close friend or niece. This means your executor would not know the intended recipient because your daughter goes by a different name.

If this happens, there are generally three possible outcomes in this situation. Your executor could give the assets to the wrong person, the court will either step in to rectify the will, or they could invalidate the entire will, leaving your estate in intestacy. This means the state will distribute your assets according to their succession laws.

How Can I Avoid Problems With My Will?

When preparing your will, ensuring you do so under the guidance of an experienced New York trusts attorney is crucial to avoid complications. If you try to write a will on your own, you are leaving your estate susceptible to intestacy should you make an error.

One of the best ways to ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes is to specify your relationship with the beneficiaries named. For example, writing “to my daughter Jane Smith” will ensure that your daughter Jane receives the intended assets, even if she changes her name.

However, if you want extra precautions, you can update your will if a beneficiary changes their name. Adding a codicil is a great way to amend your will without having to rewrite the entire document.

When you need assistance with your will, the Law Office of Andres D. Gil is ready to help. Our dedicated team has the experience necessary to help you navigate any issues you may experience with your estate plan.

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