Do we need to change Will if assets have already been given out?

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Do we need to change Will if assets have already been given out?

My mom stated in her Will that her assets are to be divided equally among my brother, myself and my adopted sister. My brother has now passed away and my mother no longer wants to give anything to my adopted sister. She has put me as joint tenant on her checking account of $150,000, showing only she and I as owners. If I remove my mother from the account title to be just in my name so all the assets are solely mine, will she still need to change her Will to remove my adopted sister from receiving anything?

Asked on July 25, 2019 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, the Will need not be changed. A Will can only convey that which the deceased owns as of the date of their death. So if your mother dies with no assets then there will be nothing in her estate. That having been said, your mother can revoke her existing Will. This may be accomplished through a writing that clearly expresses the maker's desire to cancel it. Also, certain acts can serve to legally cancel a Will. Fr example, where the maker of the Will destroys, tears, burns, or otherwise physically destroys the document. For the cancellation to be valid, the maker must also intend that the act cancel the Will. Another person may perform the destroying act, however the act must be done in the presence of, and under the direction of, the maker of the Will.

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, the Will need not be changed. A Will can only convey that which the deceased owns as of the date of their death. So if your mother dies with no assets then there will be nothing in her estate. That having been said, your mother can revoke her existing Will. This may be accomplished through a writing that clearly expresses the maker's desire to cancel it. Also, certain acts can serve to legally cancel a Will. Fr example, where the maker of the Will destroys, tears, burns, or otherwise physically destroys the document. For the cancellation to be valid, the maker must also intend that the act cancel the Will. Another person may perform the destroying act, however the act must be done in the presence of, and under the direction of, the maker of the Will.


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