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Can a Will or Trust Expire?

  • By: Christopher Benson
  • Published: February 3, 2014

Your will is the record of everything you own and what you want done with it after you die. Without a will, the state or relatives will decide what happens to your assets.

Once you have a properly signed and executed will, you should give copies to the executor, but not beneficiaries. Your will may change several times throughout your life as circumstances such as marriage, divorce, death, or a change in financial situation necessitates an update.

For most people who own real estate, setting up a family trust is usually a worthwhile time and money saver. With a little bit of planning, you can ensure that your real estate and financial matters will be handled according to your desire and intent with less stress on your family and friends.

Although there are many life events that could cause you to want to change your will, you don’t ever have to change it. The last properly signed and executed will is what the courts will use to determine how your assets are distributed.

So although a will never expires, it can be made invalid by having another, more recent updated version signed and executed. This is why it’s not recommended that anyone have a copy of your will before your passing besides the executor. You may be setting yourself up for trouble if you give copies of one will to beneficiaries and then a newer will changes things.

This is even true if all the witnesses to your will pass away before you do. Normally, the witnesses to your will would be called to testify in court that they are qualified to attest to the signing of the will. In this case, the will would still be valid, although the beneficiaries would have a harder time fighting any others who want to contest the will.

Over the past 21 years, the Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson has helped more than 800 clients prepare and utilize simple and effective planning techniques to protect them and their families in order to avoid probate, save estate taxes, save money and save added emotional burden that comes from long term illness and/or death of a family member. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation to find out how we can help you and your family.

Christopher Benson

About the Author Chris served on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity
Seattle/S. King County for 10 years and served as Vice President
of the organization during part of that time. Read More